The Aberdeen star trying to prove former club wrong, turning down offers and Scotland cap dream

A knowing smile appeared when Angus MacDonald was asked about how his time at Swindon Town ended in January, allowing him to make the move north to Aberdeen. “I could say a lot” was the response.

Quite the statement from a player who has seen and encountered plenty on a journey which has led him to the Granite City in his 30s. A journey which included ten clubs and one which saw him leave Reading, despite previous interest from Manchester United, to drop into non-league with Salisbury City, working his way back up to the English Championship. That in itself is hugely admirable but stood him “in good stead for the stuff that challenged me later in my career”. That being the well-documented battle against cancer. An inspirational story.

Back to Swindon, MacDonald was only six months into his two-year deal when the Robins started to head in a new direction, one where experienced players like the centre-back were to make room for “the younger generation”. It wasn’t necessarily the case of the 30-year-old wanting to leave, a “big risk” he called it as he was enjoying his time at the Robins and had a child on the way, “but some things behind the scenes twisted my arm into making a decision”.

‘Made a mistake’

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It could hardly have gone better. From arriving at a time when the club were directionless on the field, he is now part of a formidable backline, alongside Mattie Pollock and Liam Scales, which has helped the club into a commanding position to finish third and earn what will likely be European group stage football. And after turning down opportunities down south he committed his future to the club prior to Barry Robson doing likewise.

“I had to back myself but luckily it paid off," he said. “I hope people at Swindon are maybe looking at me now and thinking they made a mistake. The way it ended there wasn’t how I’d imagined or hoped it would end. I had a few offers down south but once I got in the building here I always wanted to stay. Once I’d had a few games, it was a no-brainer for me.

“This is one of the biggest clubs I’ve played for with its history and fan base. And in terms of what we can achieve. That’s exciting for me at this stage in my career. I didn’t expect to get this opportunity at this stage of my career. When I dropped down to Swindon at 30, I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance to build myself back up again.”

Scotland ambition

Angus MacDonald has been a key player for Aberdeen since joining in the summer.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Angus MacDonald has been a key player for Aberdeen since joining in the summer.  (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Angus MacDonald has been a key player for Aberdeen since joining in the summer. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

With a name like Angus MacDonald he was born to play for Aberdeen. And perhaps Scotland. His grandad Jimmy, a Royal Marine hailing from Inverness, not Falkirk as MacDonald originally thought, qualifies him for the national team, which was touted as a possibility earlier in his career prior to his bowel cancer diagnosis. He's not given up on that particular dream. He is the fittest he has “been in a while" and has been one of the most dominant players in the air in the Premiership since arriving at the club. And there are examples of players forging an international career in their 30s, none more so than Andrew Considine who made his debut while still at Pittodrie, aged 33.

“It would be a goal of mine,” he admitted. “It would be some achievement. My family would be proud, I would be proud. I just have to keep playing well on the pitch and then hopefully one day.”



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