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After a decade Jamie Langfield bids farewell to Aberdeen

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After a decade at Aberdeen, Jamie Langfield has confirmed that his contract has been terminated by mutual consent, bringing to an end a colourful career for the now ex-Dons number one.

Having spent the bulk of last season on the bench and then not being listed in any of this season’s match day squads as Derek McInnes brought in Liverpool’s Danny Ward, it was only a matter of time before Langfield moved on.

His testimonial against Brighton proved to be his farewell to the Red Army and he announced today that he is pursuing first team football elsewhere with a view to a coaching role.

Rumours have been rife all summer that Paisley-born Langfield will end up at his hometown club St Mirren, who’s current first choice keeper is Mark Ridgers, or at former club Dunfermline, although this could prove to be lazy journalism by reporters having a slow news day.

Wherever he ends up, he should be going with the best wishes of the Aberdeen supporters given the years of service he’s given to the club.

However, the fact that Langfield, nicknamed “Clangers” following a series of blunders in his career, said himself today he was like marmite to the Red Army, that statement won’t apply to a certain element of the Dons faithful.

In my time supporting the club, no player has divided opinion more than Jamie Langfield!

He joined the club from Dunfermline in 2005 having signed a pre contract agreement and was initially backup for Ryan Esson, starting only in League Cup matches. Following a series of poor performances by Esson, culminating with a blunder in a 3-1 home loss to Celtic in December 2005, Langfield was given the nod and kept his place for the remainder of the campaign whilst Esson’s contract was not renewed.

From then on, Clangers was number one for all but two seasons (2011/12, which I’ll touch on later, and last season) and it’s fair to say there have been a fair number of high profile blunders over these past ten years.

Games that automatically spring to mind are the 2007/08 League Cup Semi Final against Dundee United, the 2012/13 opening match at Celtic and the 2013/14 last game against Motherwell that cost the Dons second place (though that was more down to the officials missing an obvious elbow by John Sutton, who knew what he was doing).

For these matches that have cost the club a possible trophy and league points, Langfield has had more than his fair share of great matches and saves at crucial times that don’t get recognised often enough.

Arguably, his finest hour was the UEFA Cup match in Dnipro where he constantly kept the Ukrainians at bay as the Dons sealed an away-goals win to progress to the group stages of the competition.

Ironically, Jamie Langfield was very nearly out of the door that summer following a drunken argument on his stag weekend with his manager Jimmy Calderwood, allegedly over not being allowed to move to Rangers (the lesson here is never book your stag do at the same place as your gaffers holiday home).

Calderwood withdrew the offer of a new contract, placed Langfield on the transfer list and promoted Derek Souttar to number one.

However, when it became obvious that Souttar was an awful goalkeeper, Clangers was reinstated ahead of the first leg, played a huge part in Aberdeen advancing to the last 32 where they faced Bayern Munich and was awarded with the three year deal that, only six months earlier, had been removed.

Whilst that determination to win his place back is admirable, it was nothing compared to the summer of 2011 when Langfield suffered a brain seizure.

It was a frightening moment to say the least for Langfield but, once again, showed great strength to battle back. Having had treatment which gave him the all clear to play, he went out on loan to Forfar for a month and spent the remainder of the 2011/12 season as backup to Jason Brown before winning his place back in time for the 2012/13 campaign. Langfield calls this his greatest moment in a Dons shirt and little wonder.

When Aberdeen ended 18 and a half long years without a trophy with their League Cup triumph over Inverness in March 2014, Langfield played his part by saving Billy McKays penalty that set the tone for the shootout.

It wasn’t just the final though where his contribution to the tournament was valuable. He didn’t concede a goal in the competition and his save from Lee Croft in the Semi Final against St Johnstone with the score at 1-0 was outstanding. Instead of it being 1-1, Aberdeen went on to resoundingly win 4-0. After what he’d been through, on and off the pitch, it was pleasing to see Langfield achieve a winners medal.

Since that ParkRED victory, Langfield’s days at Pittodrie have slowly been coming to an end as more blunders led to him being dropped for Scott Brown last season and the recent arrival of the impressive Danny Ward.

 © Phil McCloy

© Phil McCloy

For years, Langfield has been ridiculed by sections of the Red Army, a fair bit of it unjustified especially from those who label him a “wage thief”, forgetting the fact he took a wage cut in 2011.

During Langfield’s tenure, Aberdeen have had Esson, Souttar, Bertrand Bossu, Stuart Nelson, Mark Howard, David Gonzalez, Jason Brown, Dan Twardzik and Nicky Weaver all come and gone (plus a host of Under 20 keepers) and I’d love to see the Langfield haters for putting one argument to say that any of his rivals were a better contender for the number one spot.

Even though he took Langfield’s place last season, it’s hard to say for sure that Scott Brown is a better fit and he too has made some high profile blunders, such as the Dundee United League Cup Semi Final and the 4-0 defeat at Celtic. Also, like Langfield, he is suspect at cross balls so it’s difficult to put an argument forward that he is the better of the two, despite Aberdeen’s impressive defensive record last season that was also evident in McInnes’s first season.

The fact that the Dons have brought in Ward on loan speaks volumes that the manager is unconvinced that both keepers are reliable enough to help the club progress further this campaign.

So, after 336 games in 10 years (including 16 in Europe), a drunken bust up with a manager, a brain seizure, several clean sheets, a call up to the Scotland squad in 2009, a fair share of Clangers and a League Cup winners medal, Jamie Langfield departs the North East.

He knows himself that he’ll never be recognised as a Goalkeeping great like Jim Leighton, Bobby Clark and Theo Snelders but he’s far from the worst to have kept goal for the Dons and deserves to be recognised for the service, dedication and professionalism he’s given to Aberdeen Football Club.

Wherever he ends up, and he’s still good enough to be a number one at some Scottish Premiership clubs let alone Championship, he goes with the best wishes of the majority of the Red Army who he’s developed a great relationship with over the last decade – and that will never leave him.

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