JOE Lewis could be forgiven for viewing Aberdeen’s clash with Burnley as a shop window for his extraordinary talents.
But, while the Dons’ keeper is determined to prove his worth to those who spurned him down south, he couldn’t care less about selling himself.
After struggling for top-level game time in the country of his birth, English stopper Lewis has shone between the sticks since signing up at Pittodrie two years ago.
His displays have drawn admiration from all around Scotland.
Now the 30-year-old wants to measure himself against players from the land he left behind.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to show people in England what level we’re at,” he said.
“And for individual players, it’s a chance to compete against some of the best players in the game.
“A team finishing seventh in the Premier League must have some of the world’s best players.”
Put in such strong terms, it sounds daunting.
But Lewis insists neither he, nor his team-mates, are even slightly fazed.
“We’re confident we can compete with them,” he maintained.
“In every big game you play, you want to prove a point to people and showcase what you’ve got.
“It’s a chance for me to show where I’m at in my career and how I’m performing.
“You always want to play well and showcase your skills.”
Given Lewis’ move to Scotland, it’s tempting to think he will face Burnley with a particular desire to shine.
After all, there is the perception down south that our game is a joke.
However, that is not an idea any of his fellow Englishmen have been brave enough to present to the towering stopper.
“No one from England has criticised the level of Scottish football to me. It would be pretty rude if they did!” said Lewis.
“But there will always be people who look down on it, especially online. You see the odd joke from trolls.
“But this is an opportunity for us to show how good we are and to make people take note of the Scottish game.”
Lewis’ performances in an Aberdeen shirt have certainly been noted in Scotland.
But the 30-year-old doesn’t see facing Burnley as a means to any end beyond further cementing his status as the Dons’ No. 1.
“I have no desire to leave Aberdeen at all right now,” he said.
“You never know what’s around the corner, but I’m really happy at this club. I’m enjoying it and I feel settled here.
“I’m playing the best football of my career and feel like I’m improving all the time.
“I’m still around my peak years as a goalkeeper and I have plenty ahead of me.
“I just want to carry on enjoying my football and I have no immediate desire to get away from here.”
A Europa League tie with Premier League opposition is one of the reasons why.
Results like the Dons’ win over Celtic on the final day of last season is another.
Aberdeen had to dig deep to claim that success.
But Lewis reckons it ought to give them belief that they can tackle Burnley.
“Is it a bigger challenge than playing against Celtic? It’s hard to say, but Celtic get money from the Champions League and compared to what other teams in Scotland get, it’s vast,” he said.
“That win against Celtic wasn’t just a big win for us to confirm second place.
“Having lost to them nine times previously, it gave us belief that we can beat big teams.
“It was becoming as much a mental problem, for the fans as well as the players.
“So to go there and get the win, a clean sheet and play the way we did, should give us a lot of confidence going into this game against Burnley.
“Because, like Celtic, they’ll be tough opposition.”
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