Gramae Shinnie signs off from Inverness in 'the best way'

Graeme Shinnie with the Scottish Cup
Graeme Shinnie is leaving Inverness for Aberdeen

The outgoing Inverness Caledonian Thistle captain, Graeme Shinnie, said winning the Scottish Cup was "the best way" to sign off from the club.

Shinnie lifted the trophy as the victorious skipper, his final act in the role before joining Aberdeen.

Marley Watkins and James Vincent got the goals as John Hughes' men defeated Falkirk 2-1 at Hampden Park.

"I was really determined to win this Cup, to win it for the club," he told BBC Scotland.

"I've been here for seven years and it's given me some of my best moments in football, but this definitely tops it."

The 23-year-old began his professional career in Inverness and has developed into one of the finest full-backs in the country.

He accepts he owes a debt of gratitude to the club.

"They've given me a start in my football career," he acknowledged.

"I think it's a good club for youngsters to be coming through. There's a lot of people come through the youth ranks - Ryan Christie being the latest one.

"I guess I owe them for taking me in and hopefully they'll thank me for the work I've done for them."

There can be little doubt that will be the case and Shinnie believes he leaves a club in rude health, with a best-ever league finish now capped by the Cup triumph.

Graeme Shinnie celebrates with goalkeeper Ryan Esson at full-time
Graeme Shinnie celebrated with goalkeeper Ryan Esson at full-time at Hampden

"It makes a real statement," he continued. "Maybe (it will) open up the variety of players they can pull in.

"It wasn't as easy a few years ago, but I think, with the pedigree the club's now got, I'm sure players will want to come here. It's just a club on the up."

The defender hopes this season's success can help attract more of the 14,000 fans who cheered Caley Thistle on at Hampden to support the team on a regular basis.

"I know the club do anything they can and the players are performing well and winning games, so it's just up to the punters to get down and watch the team," he said.

"I'm sure a lot of them will want to go to a European night up there."

Shinnie will be playing European football next season too - but for his new club.

"I've got a lot of hard work ahead of me and I've got to look to impress there as I have here," he went on.

"They're a team on the up. They've been doing well the past couple of years and Derek McInnes has got them going the way he wants, so I'm looking forward to starting there and starting a fresh challenge.

"I just felt I needed something different to progress my career and I thought Aberdeen was the best choice."

Of Aberdeen's own aspirations for more silverware, he said: "Definitely a cup, but they challenged Celtic for most of the year.

"Next season, we'll look to try to get stronger and get as close as we can get to Celtic and see what happens."