John Hewitt is confident Adam Rooney can usurp his position when it comes to goals scored in continental competition by shooting Aberdeen into the Europa League group stages.
Currently only Mark McGhee has scored more European goals for the Dons than his fellow Gothenburg Great but there’s no doubt who claimed the more significant strikes when it came to lifting the Cup Winners Cup in 1983.
Hewitt scored the only goal in the first round against Dinamo Tirana, the decisive one in the 3-2 aggregate win against Bayern Munich in the quarter-final and the extra-time winner in the final itself against Real Madrid.
That contributed towards a total of 12 during the glory days under Sir Alex Ferguson, but now Rooney needs just another four to overhaul him and six to replace McGhee as Aberdeen’s all-time top European goalscorer.
It is a target Hewitt believes the Irishman can challenge this season with the prospect of eight more games to come if they see off Maribor in tomorrow’s third-round qualifier following last week’s 1-1 draw at Pittodrie.
“I’m hoping Adam goes ten or 20 goals beyond what I’ve done because that means the club are doing well in Europe again” claimed Hewitt.
“I was a Dons fan as a kid, then I was lucky enough to play for them in so many big occasions.
“Now I’m a supporter like everybody else and I think they are good enough to get through to the group stages.
“If they really believe in themselves and stick together, they’ll go through because I believe Aberdeen can score in Slovenia.
“So, I hope Adam can bag another one or two on Thursday as his record, not only in this competition, speaks for itself. He’s a top class goalscorer and natural finisher so if given the chances then he’ll definitely take them.
“Of course he scored a winner for Birmingham City against Maribor a few years ago and it would be great if he can do the same for Aberdeen now.”
Hewitt’s confidence that the current Aberdeen side will see off the challenge of Maribor is built on some excellent away performances in Europe since Derek McInnes took charge.
Two years ago they defeated Groningen 2-1 over in Holland after a goalless first leg at Pittodrie but it was the way they went about dismantling Rijeka in Croatia last season that most impressed the Aberdeen legend.
In fact Hewitt believes that 3-0 win against a quality side topped anything Sir Alex Ferguson’s men achieved on the road in a two-leg tie.
He added:“If you look at their results last year in Rijeka it was probably the best result in the club’s history in an away fixture in Europe.
“It was a fantastic result even compared to the days I played and games like the 0-0 draw in Munich against Bayern.
“They went out there and won 3-0 in Croatia. The majority of Aberdeen supporters would never have seen that coming. Rijeka were a really good team, had been unbeaten at home for a year up till then and it was the only match they lost on their own patch all last season.
“It shows Aberdeen are learning all the time and playing against better quality sides and they can only gain from that.”
l Hewitt was speaking at the launch of the Friends of Murcar golf links fund raising campaign.