Dean Campbell is too modest to sing his own praises, but there are no shortage of others who are happy to oblige on his behalf.
The versatile prospect missed out on Scotland’s Under-17 UEFA Elite Round series recently through injury – a cruel twist of fate bemoaned by coach Brian McLaughlin and a set of team-mates who clearly think the world of him.
Captaining Aberdeen’s second string at just 17 years old also speaks volumes of Campbell’s maturity.
His progress has been rewarded with regular call-ups to The Dons’ senior squad but, this week at least, his focus is on lifting silverware with his contemporaries.
Dean, how excited are the boys ahead of the Scottish Youth Cup Final?
We are really looking forward to it. I’ve got family and friends coming and I think the clubs are taking a few supporters buses as well. Aberdeen haven’t won it since 2001, or even been in the final since 2003, so it means a lot now that we have the chance to put that right. We’ve talked about the Youth Cup and the importance of it all season. We’ve done reasonably well in the league but you can play overage players there, so I think the Youth Cup is a true test of where you are at this level.
You missed out on playing for Scotland’s Under-17s recently. Were you concerned you’d be ruled out for this glamour game as well?
I was gutted not to make it to the Elite Round with Scotland as we have a really close group of players. I was back running in training just as the boys were getting home from Greece. I always had being back for the Youth Cup Final in mind after rupturing a ligament in my ankle. I was a bit nervous watching them in the semi because I knew what was at stake and couldn’t play a part but they performed really well on the day against Kilmarnock to set us up for Hibs.
You pushed Hibs pretty hard in the Development League before just falling short. What do you expect from them at Hampden?
Hibs are a tough team to play against, with a solid defence and good, technical players. We’re expecting a real battle but we also want to enjoy the occasion. I’ve never actually played on the Hampden pitch so that’s something I’m looking forward to. Every young Scottish footballers grows up dreaming of walking out on the Hampden pitch.
Scott McKenna and Scott Wright have really led the way for Aberdeen’s Academy graduates. Have they inspired you?
I’m lucky to be training with the first team most days and it’s been fantastic. It takes me out of any comfort zone and I really feel like I’ve improved for it. At my age, I’m also lucky to have been involved in the squads for some big league games and the Scottish Cup semi-final. It’s been a fantastic year. The two Scotts have shown what can be done if you work hard and have the right attitude. The opportunity is there for us, especially with our coach, Paul Sheerin, doubling up as a member of the first-team match-day staff. The manager and his assistant are always at our games but it can’t hurt to have Paul there as well to promote our cause.
Check out Dean's attempt at our 5 Second Challenge with the Scotland Under-17s...