Scott McKenna admits he fears becoming a member of a lost generation at Aberdeen.
Boss Derek McInnes brought the Dons’ 19-year wait for a trophy to an end when he lifted the League Cup in 2014 but his team have so far failed to back up that triumph with fresh silverware.
The Pittodrie side will get a shot at righting that wrong if they can see off Celtic on Sunday to book a William Hill Scottish Cup final slot.
But it is also likely to be McKenna’s last chance to claim his place in Aberdeen’s hall of fame.
The Dons defender continues to draw admiring glances from afar and a fresh round of speculation over his future is certain to erupt this summer.
Celtic are rumoured to be leading that queue of suitors but – for the moment – the Scotland centre-back is only focused on downing the Hoops this weekend.
And if the current campaign does turn out to be his last in the Granite City, the 22-year-old is determined to go with a winners’ medal around his neck.
McKenna said: “The manager and a lot of the boys who were here in 2014 say winning the cup was their best footballing memory so all us younger ones want to experience that as well.
“I don’t know when I’ll move on from Aberdeen but I want to make sure when I do, I’ve moved on from a successful team.
“I don’t want to be known for being part of the generation who came after the League Cup winners who didn’t really achieve anything.
“If I’m going to leave Aberdeen, I want to do it with a Scottish Cup.”
Wolves and Aston Villa have also been keeping tabs on McKenna in recent months but the big defender insists the speculation has barely registered.
Instead, his focus has been aimed purely an providing leadership at the back for club and country.
His words of wisdom will be required more than ever this weekend as the Dons square up to Neil Lennon’s treble treble chasers without suspended skipper Graeme Shinnie.
“I wouldn’t say the speculation has put more pressure on me this year,” said McKenna. “I just try to take responsibility out on the pitch, but that’s what you have to do playing in my position anyway.
“If I want to better myself, I need to be able to handle that responsibility.
“I do feel like one of the older ones now as we’ve got lads aged 17, 18 and 19 coming in now. All of a sudden 22 seems a mile off it.
“It’s brilliant that these boys like Lewis Ferguson and Connor McLennan are coming in and doing well. I just need to look after them as much as I can when things aren’t coming off for them.
“Graeme (Shinnie) has played every single game for us this season and is a massive player for us.
“We’re all gutted he is missing but now it’s up to others to step up and take on the responsibility.
“I remember the Motherwell semi-final last year when he was also suspended. He was the exact same before the match as he was before any other game.
“He was obviously disappointed to be missing out but didn’t show that in the dressing room at all. He was just his usual self, trying to encourage everyone and get us all up for the game.
“The game last year was a wee bit different to Sunday’s though. We were missing three players who had played nearly every game. Kenny McLean, Shay Logan and Graeme.
“Only Shinnie is missing this year so things will be more settled.”
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