How Aberdeen’s new boy nearly quit football and the former SPFL manager and defender who helped

In 2019, the 25-year-old found himself in a difficult position, on and off the park. There was the release from Newcastle United, after a season in which he scored his first goal for the club. From a minute as a Premier League footballer to almost starting from scratch, securing a contract elsewhere, while dealing with issues in his personal life.

There were offers abroad that did not please. There have been trials at Southend United, Burnley and Middlesbrough. Burnley were keen to offer a deal, Boro were also keen but wanted him to extend a trial period for a further month with no money.

No wonder the player, the very person, was stunned by it all, contemplating throwing the football away.

Then came Blyth Spartans, their right-back Rhys Evans and manager Lee Clark, who had Roberts at Kilmarnock on loan, noting he “owes a lot to those two”.

“It was probably the most important thing I’ve ever done,” Roberts said.

“I was in a state of mind where I was thinking maybe just give up football, or just go to Blyth and see how it goes.

“It was honestly the best thing I’ve ever done. I loved it. Just playing regular football, playing well and then moving to Notts County.

Roberts had a loan spell with Kilmarnock. Image: SNS

“One of my best friends from school was with me at Blyth. Even before I signed he always told me to stay in shape, keep my head up and try to keep enjoying it .

“It was just when I had to go through a trial with several different clubs. I didn’t really like it or felt like I was going nowhere.

“I was also going through a tough time off the pitch and just wanted to stay somewhere a little closer to home.

“That’s why Blyth was ideal for me. It was just about getting that love for the game back. I basically had to re-evaluate my whole life. Fortunately, I gave him another chance.

Callum Roberts made his debut for Aberdeen against Celtic on Sunday. (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group)

‘No other choice’

And try it, it certainly did. In half a season at Blyth, Roberts scored 17 goals in 25 games, prompting Notts County to sign the striker.

Despite ‘a few options’ elsewhere, he was prepared to stay with the club until Aberdeen arrived on the scene and spoke to Goodwin.

“Some options were interesting, some not so interesting,” said Roberts, who expects to play “on the right or in No.10.”

“It was quite bizarre because a day or two before I had the interest from Aberdeen, I actually spoke to the Notts County manager and said I was going to stay this season.

“I was going to see the end of the season and then see what happened at the end of the season.

“My agent then called me and said Aberdeen was going to make an offer. Obviously I had to tell him I wanted to go. There was no other choice.”

Roberts could make his debut on Saturday when the Dons host St Mirren in the Premiership.

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