Aberdeen Cup Winners' Cup 1983 anniversary - Where are the team who beat Real Madrid 30 years ago now

Later this week marks the 30th anniversary of the most famous night in Aberdeen’s history, the 1983 Cup Winners' Cup win when the Dons beat the mighty Real Madrid on a rain-soaked evening in Gothenburg. In doing so, the men from the Granite City became the third and last Scottish side to win a European trophy.

In the intervening 30 years, the 12 men who played that evening and coaching staff have gone on to achieve plenty in the game, as players, coaches and managers.

Jim Leighton

A Dons legend who played more than 500 games for the club across two spells which were separated by stints at Manchester United and Hibs. Leighton would return to the club in a coaching capacity with two spells as the goalkeeping coach and would also hold that position with the Scotland Under-21s. After departing under Derek McInnes he moved outside of football with jobs at a gas firm based in Aberdeen and then a company dealing in marine life-saving systems.

Doug Rougvie

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One of the biggest characters and personalities in the Aberdeen squad. He would stay one more season at Pittodrie before leaving for Chelsea and spending five years in England with four different clubs. Was still playing in the Highland League at 45 and had a couple of management spells. Works within oil and gas within Aberdeen. He remains a popular figure at the club.

Alex McLeish

Twelve trophies won with Aberdeen as a player, seven with Rangers as a manager make him one of Scottish football’s most decorated individuals. He stayed with the Dons until 1994 before embarking on a long managerial career which lasted from 1994 until his second spell with Scotland between 2018 and 2019. He won trophies with Hibs, Rangers and Birmingham City as manager.

Aberdeen won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1983, defeating Real Madrid in Gothenburg 30 years ago. Picture: SNSAberdeen won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1983, defeating Real Madrid in Gothenburg 30 years ago. Picture: SNS
Aberdeen won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1983, defeating Real Madrid in Gothenburg 30 years ago. Picture: SNS

Willie Miller

"The best penalty box defender in the world" according to Sir Alex Ferguson. Miller is a bona fide Dons great. Perhaps the greatest, Sir Alex aside. He is the club’s record appearance holder and went on to manage the club over 150 times before holding positions at board level. Remains a regular BBC Scotland pundit.

John McMaster

Unsurprisingly part of the club's Hall of Fame. Spent the majority of his career at Pittodrie winning plenty of trophies after being discovered playing in the west of Scotland. Had a spell with hometown club Greenock Morton before going into coaching and then scouting in the English Premier League. Has recently just written a book, ‘McMaster and Commander: The Business of Winning’.

John Hewitt scored the winning goal for Aberdeen against Real Madrid. Picture: SNSJohn Hewitt scored the winning goal for Aberdeen against Real Madrid. Picture: SNS
John Hewitt scored the winning goal for Aberdeen against Real Madrid. Picture: SNS

Neale Cooper

A hugely popular figure wherever he went, Cooper had success as player and manager. He left the Dons in 1986 for Aston Villa and had spells with Dunfermline and Rangers, winning trophies at both clubs. In management he took Ross County to successive promotions and had two stints at Hartlepool United amongst roles elsewhere. Sadly he died aged just 54 in 2018. Hartlepool renamed a stand after him.

Gordon Strachan

The player who perhaps went on to have the most high profile career away from Aberdeen and in management. Fifty caps for Scotland as well as trophies with Manchester United and Leeds United including the old Football League first division. He managed in the Premier League with Coventry City and Southampton and guided Celtic to three successive title wins. Manager Scotland for 40 games. Now a technical director at Dundee.

Dons celebrations after winning the cup. Picture: SNSDons celebrations after winning the cup. Picture: SNS
Dons celebrations after winning the cup. Picture: SNS

Neil Simpson

An influential midfield force for the Dons. Had injury issues towards the end of his career at Pittodrie then also at Motherwell and Newcastle United. Remains a popular and familiar face around the club as the pathways manager. His role supports “the transition of young players emerging from the Under-18s into first team football”.

Peter Weir

The tricky winger was signed twice by Sir Alex Ferguson, first at St Mirren then for the Dons where he spent six years, joining Leicester City. He was viewed as the final piece in the jigsaw by Ferguson and regarded as a club's best ever wide player. Went into coaching with the club. Was inducted into the hall of fame in 2018.

Mark McGhee

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Would stay for the club for one more season after the Cup Winners’ Cup win before joining Hamburg, the team defeated by the Dons in the Super Cup, before returning to Scotland to join Celtic. After his playing career went into management which lasted over 30 years with 11 different clubs, including Aberdeen. It wasn't a success at Pittodrie. He retired from management after a short stint with Dundee last season.

Eric Black

Opened the scoring in Gothenburg and packed plenty into a playing career which ended prematurely at 27 following injury. After Aberdeen he joined French side Metz. He would then embark on a long coaching career managing Motherwell and Coventry City, as well as a number of caretaker spells. His last coaching gig was with Southampton before walking away from football to selling bespoke furniture, telling the Sunday Post he had “no interest whatsoever of going anywhere near a touchline”.

John Hewitt

The scorer of the winning goal in extra time, writing his name into Aberdeen, Scottish and European football history, and the scorer of the fastest goal in the Scottish Cup. Had a varied career after Pittodrie, signing for Celtic before spells at the likes of Dundalk and Cove Rangers. Went into coaching before moving into the oil and gas industry.

Sir Alex Ferguson

One of the greatest jobs in football management history at Pittodrie. He followed it up by transforming Manchester United into one of the world’s football giants after years of inconsistency. He guided the Red Devils to 38 trophies having taken Aberdeen to ten trophies, 11 if you include the Drybrough Cup.

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