Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes was full of praise for Graeme Shinnie after the departing captain put himself forward for selection against Hearts despite not being fully fit.
The 27-year-old midfielder, who will join Derby this summer, has been suffering from an ankle injury but told McInnes he was ready to play and lasted the full 90 minutes as Aberdeen beat Hearts 2-1 on Friday night.
McInnes hailed Shinnie as an example to other players and said he deserved to have a winning Pittodrie farewell.
The Dons manager said: “He came and chapped my door and said he wanted to play and was ready to play. He did a bit of work in training and there was no reaction.
“His ankle’s heavily strapped and he took painkillers. The physios had their doubts and concerns about it, but when your captain says he wants to play, you listen.
“He wasn’t fully fit but he’s an example to others. He has the ability to make others round about him better.
“He’s a team player and I’ve never worked with a player who has such a connection with the supporters. We’ll rest him now and hopefully he’s fit for one last effort against Hibs next Sunday.
“It was great to see him part of a winning performance. He deserved that.”
After a goalless first half, Aberdeen struck first when Lewis Ferguson opened the scoring in the 54th minute.
Bobby Burns levelled in the 65th minute but Greg Stewart fired home the winner with 13 minutes left to earn the hosts victory.
McInnes added: “I thought we were the better team, and 1-0 should have been enough. We’ve lost a cheap goal as has been systematic in the second half of our season, so we had to go and do it all again.”
Hearts boss Craig Levein, while disappointed with the result, saw plenty to be positive about from his much-changed side.
“These games are always very similar. They’re tight, competitive and sometimes scrappy matches, and this followed the same pattern,” he said.
“I thought we were having our best spell of the match when Aberdeen got their winner, which was the annoying part for me.
“The players showed lots of effort and application – the desire to prove they want to be part of the cup final which is what I was hoping for. We just ended up on the wrong end of the scoreline.
“In terms of the players doing well enough to make me feel I can include them in the cup final squad, they did that. We also got a decent performance without some of our key players.”
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