Douglas Kelly, 73, attempted a rugby "tap tackle" on the thug after his legs were kicked from under him as he withdrew cash from a Morningside bank machine on Tuesday.
Mr Kelly regained his footing quickly after falling heavily to the icy ground before diving at his assailant's feet in a bid to trip him up. The pensioner clipped the leg but with insufficient power to send the man tumbling.
The hooded yob, described as 6ft tall and aged from 20 to 25, made off towards Miller Crescent at around 3.30pm with just 20.
Police are investigating the attack, which took place outside the Santander ATM in Morningside Road, but have moved to assure elderly residents that they believe this was an opportunistic and isolated incident.
"I used to be a reasonably good sportsman so I'm used to knock injuries," said Mr Kelly, who suffered a swollen elbow in the fall.
"But I went for the tap tackle which connected with him but it wasn't hard enough to take him down. I then discovered very quickly that a 73-year-old can't run quite as fast as he could 50 years ago.
"With all the adrenaline flowing, if I had managed to get him grounded, I would have done him a fair amount of injury."
A small crowd also failed to chase down the mugger, who was described as being white, medium build, and wearing a blue hooded jacket, blue jeans, and scruffy white trainers.
Mr Kelly was being looked after by his family last night. He said despite the shock of the attack he felt unbowed.
"It will take a lot more than that to dent my confidence," he said. "Anyway, the guy could have been much better off if he had waited for a bit because I was just about to lift 50."
DC Sandra Lamb, one of the police officers leading the investigation, branded the attack a "despicable act" against a vulnerable individual.
"Because of his age, this could have had much more serious consequences," she said. "It is a horrible crime against a vulnerable pensioner.
"We are certainly thinking this is a premeditated assault, but are not linking it to other assaults in the area."
DC Lamb also hailed Mr Kelly's feisty spirit and praised his attempt to recoup the money.
"The fact he got back to his feet and gave chase shows how heroically this man has acted. He is incredibly fit and well for his age - it's a tremendous attitude from a 73-year-old man who had just been attacked."
Anyone with information should contact police on 0131-311 3131.