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7 Of The Best Players To Ever Play For Aberdeen

Podcast Blog Post 14


7: Russell Anderson

He grew up in the Mannofield area of Aberdeen and attended Aberdeen Grammar School. He began his career with local club Aberdeen. Anderson progressed through the ranks to make his first-team debut in 1997; scoring his first goal for the club in a 4–0 win against Hibernian in 2000. Described as a solid, reliable centre-back (although he played some of his first matches at right-back), Anderson established himself as a first choice player and went on to make more than 300 appearances in his first spell with the club. In 2003, he was appointed club captain, a role he held for four years before moving to Sunderland in 2007.

In the 2005–06 season, he won the most league man-of-the-match awards from BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound. In 2006, Anderson celebrated ten years at the club with a testimonial match against Everton, a match where the Aberdeen fans showed their respect for his considerable ability and loyalty, with 12,000 fans attending the match.

6: Jim Bett

By the time Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson took Jim Bett to Pittodrie in 1985, the cultured midfielder was already a well-travelled footballer. Starting at Airdrie, through Iceland and Belgium, the Scottish internationalist signed for Rangers in 1980, before again heading abroad back to Belgium. It was from there Fergie signed Bett for £300,000 in time for the start of the 1985-6 season.

It didn’t take Bett long to make an impression. In the opening game of the season against Hibs, a short corner from Peter Weir found Bett on the edge of the box, and his drive from 20 yards found the roof of the net, the first goal in a comfortable 3-0 win to get Aberdeen’s defence of the title off and running.

Bett struck up an immediate partnership with Weir on the left of the Dons midfield, adding calmness and a class that could be argued was sometimes missing from Fergie’s teams of that time. His often lackadaisical approach to games irritated many fans, but there could be no doubt his quite considerable talent in the Aberdeen engine room.

It has generally been considered that the Gothenburg team was the best Dons side of all time, and Aberdeen fans have long discussed which other Dons player could have comfortably played in that team. Jim Bett’s name is one that crops up more than most. A wonderfully cultured midfielder, and one that fully deserves all the plaudits he receives for his time with Aberdeen.

5: Jim Leighton

Leighton was an unfussy and reliable goalkeeper, something that Scotland had been in short supply of over the years. He would spend the bulk of his career at Aberdeen but also played for Manchester United and had a moderately successful spell at Hibs before rejoining Aberdeen in 1997. He was capped 91 times for Scotland over a spell of 16 years and was included in four World Cup squads. The idea of a Scotland team qualifying for a World Cup is almost alien now.

Leighton joined Aberdeen from Ayrshire club Dalry Thistle in 1978 and spent some time out on loan at Deveronvale. He made his Aberdeen debut in Alex Ferguson’s first game in charge of the club against Hearts at Tynecastle. First-choice keeper Bobby Clark was unavailable so the young, inexperienced Leighton was brought in as his replacement.

Eamonn Bannon scored for Hearts after just three minutes, but despite the heavy rain and poor conditions, Aberdeen fought back to win 4-1 with Leighton making a number of crucial saves. He had made a good impression in his first game and would go on to establish himself in the most successful Aberdeen sides of all time. Under Ferguson’s management, the Dons would win the Cup Winners Cup beating Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the process, four Scottish Cups, two League Cups and a league title, Leighton was in goal for all of these triumphs.

4: Hans Gillhaus

Here's one for you…Aberdeen F.C. are interested in buying a striker. Fast wee guy, can turn defenders before they even know he's got the ball and then he's gone. Into the penalty area, keeper comes out… one nil!

Sound good? What if you were to be told he was a European Cup winner? In his prime? A certainty to go to the forthcoming World Cup as back up to the guy who was about to be named as the Greatest Striker of the Century.

Now it's just sounding TOO good, isn't it?

But, you know, it happened. For £650,000, a Dutchman by the name of Hans Gillhaus left behind Hans van Breukelen, Gerald Vanenburg and Soren Lerby at PSV Eindhoven, to team up with Theo Snelders, Jim Bett and Charlie Nicholas at Aberdeen.

His debut would come at Dunfermline's East End Park. It was a miserable day, but there was an eagerness amongst the Dons fans to see this new Dutchman after all his country had been known to produce one or two players of note. By halftime, the Don’s were two nil up. Or should I say Hans Gillhaus was two nil up? A header from six yards followed a sublime looping overhead bicycle kick, awesome stuff, but the thing that I really couldn't get over was his pace with the ball at his feet.

He made the Dunfermline defenders look stupidly static that day. By the end of the weekend, the whole of Scottish Football was talking about him.

27 goals in just over 90 games left the Aberdeen fans in awe of the striker.

3: Gordon Strachan 

The "wee man" as he was affectionately known to the Aberdeen support, joined the Dons in an exchange deal that took Jim Shirra to Dundee with a £40,000 cash adjustment. Dons boss Billy McNeill brought off the deal that was too prove crucial to Aberdeen success. Strachan went on to become a vital part of the Aberdeen side, with a rare talent to easily trick his way past opponents. Capped for Scotland on 50 occasions, Strachan joined Manchester United in 1984 in a £600,000 move. Played for Scotland at two World Cups, and also enjoyed considerable success with Manchester Utd, Leeds and Coventry.

2: Alex Mcleish

Mcleish signed for the Dons in 1977 from Glasgow United, and went on to become a Dons legend, gaining 77 caps for Scotland. An integral part of the great Dons side of the 80's, forged a defensive partnership with Willie Miller that is arguably the greatest ever seen in the Scottish game. A dominating centre-half, McLeish remains a great favourite at Pittodrie and was awarded a testimonial in 1990. Joined Motherwell as manager in 1994 after a remarkable 17-year Pittodrie career. Another, of the Dons exclusive 500 appearance club.

Aberdeen’s greatest ever player: Willie Miller

Without doubt as Dons Greats go, Miller has no equal. Inspirational captain that took the Dons to the heady heights of success at home and abroad. Joined the Dons in 1971 and after being converted into a sweeper, Miller forged a remarkable career with the Dons. League Cup wins in 1976 and 1989 sandwiched a run of success never seen at Pittodrie. Capped for Scotland on 65 occasions, Miller has been afforded every accolade in the game.

He took over as Dons boss in February 1992, but paid the ultimate penalty as the Dons struggled in 1995. Has proved a popular media pundit, but that role was curtailed after he joined the Aberdeen board in June 2004. Miller has never worked in football out with the confines of Pittodrie

He is 7OTB and The Football Hour's greatest Don’s player.

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