Aberdeen: Stephen Gleeson eyes Europe after joining from Ipswich Town

Stephen Gleeson in action for Ipswich Town
Stephen Gleeson joined Ipswich from Birmingham in January

Republic of Ireland midfielder Stephen Gleeson says the lure of European football was instrumental in his decision to join Aberdeen.

The 29-year-old, who has signed a two-year contract at Pittodrie, ended last season with English Championship club Ipswich Town.

Now he wants to help the Dons reach the group stage of the Europa League.

"When I finally retire and I speak to my kids, if I can tell them I played in Europe, it'd be magnificent," he said.

"It's a new challenge, it's something I've never done before.

"I've done League One, I've done the Championship, never made it to the Premier League, but speaking to people about the club, everyone was positive.

"At the start, I was a bit 50/50, but the more people I talked to and the more I thought about it, it's an exciting challenge.

"I love a challenge, so it was a no-brainer coming in the end."

Gleeson began his career with Wolverhampton Wanderers and had loan spells with Stockport County, Hereford United, and MK Dons before a permanent move to the latter.

He spent five years with the English Dons before another four with Birmingham City.

However, having found himself out of favour at St Andrew's, he was allowed to join Championship rivals Ipswich in January and went on to make five starts and five substitute appearances for the side who finished the season in 12th place.

Gleeson has four caps for his country and, after a 10-year gap between his 2007 debut and his second, scored in the recent 3-1 defeat by Mexico.

He will team up with compatriot Adam Rooney at Pittodrie and admits he sought advice from the Dons striker before agreeing to move north.

"Me and Adam go back 15/16 years," Gleeson said. "We played together at schoolboy level, we've been involved in underage and senior Irish teams.

Stephen Gleeson (right) in action for Republic of Ireland
Stephen Gleeson (right) earned his fourth Ireland cap against Mexico

"I'm my own man, but I did speak to people because it's a massive change, I've never played up here, so I did speak to him.

"It'll be good to have that friendly face when the squad finally meets up."

Gleeson was also impressed in his dealings with Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.

"He is one of the most impressive managers I've ever spoken to over the phone," he said. "I haven't met him face to face yet, but we've had numerous phone calls.

"The way he sold the club to me, his ambition, everything he wanted to do this year really helped me make the final decision. I think he'll improve me.

"I knew of the interest two months ago. I watched the final game of the season against Celtic [1-0 win], where they were really impressive.

"Obviously I know about the success when Sir Alex was here and over the last few years they've been Celtic's biggest rivals. I know from speaking to the manager he wants to bridge that gap."

Gleeson becomes McInnes' third midfield addition of the summer after the arrival of Lewis Ferguson from Hamilton Academical and Chris Forrester from Peterborough United.

The manager says Gleeson is "exactly the type of player we wanted for that role".

"He's got the qualities to be a very good player, both on and off the pitch, and as a club we'll be able to give him what he demands of himself," McInnes added.

"Following the news about Lewis and then Chris a couple of weeks ago, I'm excited to see what these players can bring to the club," McInnes told Aberdeen's website.

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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