AS HE turned 16, Bruce Anderson was on his way to realising his boyhood dreams and becoming a professional footballer.

The striker, who has been on loan with Athletic since January, had moved away from the family home in Banff after signing full-time for Aberdeen, the club that he supported.

But, no sooner had he started on the road to starring for the Dons, Anderson started to feel ill, more tired than normal and was taking on what he described as "litres and litres of water".

After going to hospital for tests, he was diagnosed with diabetes – and, to make matters worse, he underwent an operation on a serious knee injury just 24 hours later.

For a teenager, it was a lot to deal with, and he admitted to questioning whether he had a future in the game.

But, after studying the condition, Anderson, 20, decided he wouldn't let it stop his path to the top – and now wants to show other youngsters that they can achieve their ambitions in spite of it.

Anderson, who will return to Pittodrie in the summer when his temporary stint with the Pars ends, told Press Sport: "It doesn't really bother me talking about it; I want to be an inspiration to other kids that have it. As soon as I got diagnosed, I wanted to show other kids that have got the same that nothing's impossible, you can do anything with the disease, and it's not going to stop you from doing anything.

"I'd just turned 16. It was my first year of being full-time, and I'd just moved away from home, so already it's quite a big thing as a 16-year-old.

"I can remember I was quite ill. I wasn't really performing, I was getting quite tired and I was drinking litres and litres of water. I kept waking up in the night and just downing litres, and then I said to my parents, something's not right – I need to get checked.

"I went into the hospital and got all my tests, and then it took two weeks. In between those two weeks, I had a game on an astroturf (pitch) and done my cartilage in my knee, so I had to get an operation.

"The operation was the day after I found out I had diabetes so then everything all came at once."

When asked how he felt at the time, Anderson continued: "It was hard – I'd be lying if I said it was alright – but I managed to get through it, that's the main thing.

"I managed to keep a positive mindset and now I'm looking to, hopefully, be an inspiration to other kids.

"When I first got diagnosed, I didn't know much about it. I thought: 'I'm going to have to move home', that will be my career over, but that was only just at the heat of the moment.

"As soon as I started learning about it, I thought: 'I'm not going to let that stop me from doing my dream'."

And it hasn't.

Anderson, who has hit five goals in Dunfermline colours, made his Reds debut in their league opener with Rangers in August and, memorably, smashed home a stoppage time leveller to send Pittodrie wild.

He is under contract with Derek McInnes' team until 2021 and, as well as making an impact on the pitch, he wants to be there for others off it – just like Celtic midfielder Scott Allan was for him.

"I think I've mentioned him before but he's the one that, as soon as I got diagnosed, said to me if there's anything, come to me, and it's not going to stop you doing anything.

"He was the one that made me think if he can do it, I can do it, and was probably the biggest one that motivated me to be the same as him.

"I've said that if any youngsters are struggling with it, and if they want to get in contact with anyone that knows me or anyone at Aberdeen, I'd be happy to speak to them on the phone and show them really that anything is possible.

"Hopefully, the more people I can get to look up and see that it is possible to be a professional athlete, the better for me."

Meanwhile, Saturday's final-day loss at Inverness marked the end of Anderson's spell with Dunfermline, and he says he's thankful to head coach Stevie Crawford for helping him become a "much stronger, better player".

"I know I’ve only been here four months but I can feel the benefits of coming here and playing every week," he added.

"It’s what I wanted to do and I think it’s benefitted me a lot coming here.

"I’m not going back (to Aberdeen) to sit on the bench, I’m going back to hopefully play and that’s the mindset I’m going back with. I’ve come here to be a better player and hopefully it will push me on next season for a starting spot.

"I’ve got that feeling of waking up on a Saturday all excited for the games. It’s something I love doing; I love playing games, and I’ll go back up there to definitely try and get a starting spot."

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