Michael Devlin: Aberdeen defender in love with football again
Aberdeen defender Michael Devlin says joining the Dons while recovering from injury helped him rediscover his "love of football".
Devlin, 24, arrived from Hamilton in January and continued his rehabilitation from a knee injury in the second half of last season.
And, last month, the defender played his first senior match in 14 months as Aberdeen took on Burnley.
"I could not wait to start playing again," he told Aberdeen's website.
"When you have a long term injury, the mental side is the hardest thing to deal with. I've had two of them now and I spent time during both speaking to sports psychologists to make sure I tried to keep on top of things.
"As much as you need to try and be positive, you have days when you do lack motivation. You need the tools to be able to deal with that, be it other people, music, or books.
"I had a massive lift when I came here in January. It gave me that love of football again, and I was not even fit. I loved coming in here every day and doing my work. This squad is the best group of boys I have ever come across."
Though Derek McInnes's side drew 1-1 with Burnley and followed that up with another 1-1 draw over 90 minutes against the Premier League side, it was the Turf Moor club who prevailed in extra-time to secure a 4-2 aggregate win.
Rangers were Aberdeen's opening Premiership opponents for the new season on Sunday, with Bruce Anderson's late goal securing a 1-1 draw.
Under McInnes, Aberdeen have finished second to Celtic in the past four seasons and Devlin said: "There is one major team in the city and everyone gets behind the team.
"We are challenging to be the best team in the country again this season. We want to compete and be successful and win trophies."