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Willie Miller's Aberdeen Dream Team


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WILLIE MILLER is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to have ever pulled on an Aberdeen jersey.

 

Now, in a new book, the Dons legend has picked his own Aberdeen Dream Team ? and SunSport has secured an exclusive first look.

 

Today Miller looks at the midfielder who deserve a place in Pittodrie folklore and reveals some of his all-star line up.

 

In the next two days he'll give his expert opinion on the pick of the club's forwards as well as who he sees as the Reds' finest ever boss.

 

THE MEN to play in the engine room of my Dream Team gave me more trouble than any other position.

 

The problem was that we have had more than our fair share of great players in midfield.

 

NEALE COOPER is a man I still know well. He always makes me smile and had ridiculous blonde curly hair when I first knew him.

 

He may be as bald as me nowadays but his sense of fun is thankfully still intact.

 

Watching some of his bone-crunching tackles up close, even in training, sent shivers down my spine but there was a lot more to his game than that.

 

He was quick-thinking and many a time provided the killer pass required to split defences.

 

You have to remember he was just 19 when he won the Cup Winners Cup.

 

Imagine picking up such an honour at such a young age. I certainly remember he celebrated our win over in Gothenburg like a teenager by going out to get plastered.

 

Most of the guys went back to the hotel but Tattie and the younger guys like Bryan Gunn went into town afterwards to meet up with the Aberdeen fans in Gothenburg and were never seen again.

 

To be fair I think Tattie was originally going to meet his family in town but I believe one thing led to another, as it was always going to.

 

I remember him telling me when he walked into the Europa Hotel he saw his mum and sister at the far corner of the bar.

 

Rather than having to fight his way through, the Aberdeen fans simply lifted him over their heads in a form of crowd-surfing you sometimes get at rock concerts.

 

Suffice to say it was a miracle that Tattie and Bryan made the flight home to Aberdeen after their night out.

 

NEIL SIMPSON was always known as a ferocious tackler but I prefer to call him Aberdeen's finest ball-winner.

 

There was much more to Simmie's game than just crunching tackles.

 

He was a real class act who was a vital piece in the centre of midfield alongside Neale Cooper when Sir Alex was in charge.

 

Unfortunately for Simmie the one incident that non-Aberdeen fans remember him for was a tackle on Ian Durrant that put the Rangers player out of the game for a considerable length of time.

 

I didn't defend the tackle then and I am not going to defend it now. I remember speaking to Neil about it at the time and if he had his time again he would never have made the challenge.

 

In his defence he never went over the top on purpose, it was just not his way.

 

What kept the backlash over the challenge going for much longer than it ever should have was the fact that referee Louis Thow didn't send Simmie off and only booked him.

 

If he had seen a red rather than yellow card then I really do think that would have been the end of things and we could have all moved on.

 

As it turned out there was a sense of injustice among Rangers fans surrounding the fact Ian was out for a long time and Simmie had walked away with just a yellow card.

 

Now as I said earlier I am not going to defend the challenge. Simmie knew it was a bad one.

 

What I will always defend is Simmie's exemplary character as a man and a player.

 

What I could not stand was the witch-hunt he had to endure after the incident, and he remained strong throughout.

 

The tackle did not deserve to be brought up time and time again in the media whenever Rangers played Aberdeen for years and years afterwards.

 

Thankfully the memories have faded and for me the fact Neil went on to be a respected youth coach and head our academy at Pittodrie should be part of his legacy, not the fallout from an ill-advised tackle made years ago.

 

PAUL MASON currently runs The Gables Hotel in Southport and, if any Dons fans are passing, book in and thank him for helping us to one of our most important results in the history of the club back in 1989.

 

We had lost twice in a row to Rangers in the Scottish League Cup and nobody, especially me, wanted them to get the hat-trick.

 

Graeme Souness was in charge at Ibrox at the time and they had some highly-paid stars on their books ? but they were all overshadowed by Paul's display.

 

He put us ahead in twenty minutes and, although Mark Walters scored a controversial equaliser from the penalty spot, it was Paul who got the winner from a Charlie Nicholas flick-on in extra-time.

 

In his five years at the club he was a vital cog in the Aberdeen machine and, if Mason had been a Scot rather than a Scouser, I'm sure he would have amassed more than 50 caps.

 

There were many other midfielders I considered for a place in my Dream Team with Peter Weir, Doug Bell, Billy Stark, Jack Allister, Chris Anderson and Jim Bett among them.

 

But one I didn't consider, which may surprise a few Dons fans out there, is Zoltan Varga.

 

I feel there has been a myth around Zoltan that I can't understand.

 

Yes, he was a talented player but he only signed for Aberdeen because he had nowhere else to go after being kicked out of German football when he was at Hertha Berlin after a bribes scandal.

 

Yes, he had a sublime talent and played in two European finals ? against Leeds United and Juventus when he was with Ferencvaros.

 

I do not doubt he was a magnificent player but he was only at Pittodrie for less than one full one season during which time he won nothing and played just 26 league games.

Miller's main man: Gordon Strachan

 

GORDON STRACHAN is one of the most exciting playmakers Scotland has ever produced.

 

He made an immediate impact at Pittodrie and was a main man during our glory years.

 

Wee Gordon had great individual skill and extraordinary vision and played a huge part in bringing the League Championship to Aberdeen in 1980.

 

Some people, who clearly didn't understand Gordon's role at Aberdeen, used to pigeonhole him as a winger, which was ridiculous.

 

Jimmy Johnstone was a winger. Gordon Strachan most definitely wasn't. Yes he could get to the line and put in some fine crosses but there was a lot more to his game than that.

 

He was a box-to-box player who could win a tackle on the edge of his own area and then be in the penalty box at the other end to score.

 

Mind you, we did come close to falling out when we were sharing a room and I couldn't understand why my toothbrush was damp whenever I went to use it.

 

One night I came back a bit earlier than expected to find Gordon brushing his teeth with my toothbrush.

 

Not bothered at all he claimed he didn't have space in his toilet bag for a toothbrush of his own and thought I wouldn't mind him using mine.

 

I liked his laid-back attitude to some aspects of life and his big smile as he brushed his teeth with my brush made me realise there was no point me losing the rag with him. I told him to keep the toothbrush we'd been sharing and bought myself a new one I kept out of his way.

 

Willie Miller's Aberdeen Dream Team copyright © Willie Miller Rob Robertson ? Black White Publishing ? Published on Wednesday 19th October £10.99.

 

It's not going to be much of a book if more than 50% of his team has already been revealed in The Sun!

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Far's hw gonna put Benny Yorston?

 

It would have been Benny's birthday the other day, there was a good piece on the official website about him. You get a mention...  ;)

 

Although I'm delighted to see Paul Mason in there as he was a big favourite of mine it is a bit of a shock.  Thought he'd have gone for Strachan, Bett, Simmie and Weir in his midfield.

 

Who would you have gone for in your Dream Team midfield?

 

 

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Has this not been done before by Miller?  It seems to ring a bell.

 

Good choice of midfield, Mason was also a particular favourite of mine, but a bit lop sided, no natural width on the left.

 

he did a video in the early 90s.. "20 Greats over 20 years" or something like that.  Famous for such classic lines from Willie as:

 

"Pump that iron, Theo" and "on yer bike, Stewart" in the peerless "Gym Scene".  ;)

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THE Aberdeen team of the late 1970s and 1980s that I played in was blessed with some of the greatest front men in the history of the club, of that there is no doubt.

 

MARK McGHEE, at his peak, was a real streetwise player, who knew exactly how to find gaps in the opposition defence.

 

He was strong, powerful, gritty, determined and fearless. All you ever wanted in a striker.

 

The one domestic game involving Mark I remember more than any other was the 1982 Scottish Cup Final against Rangers.

 

It was fitting that it was Mark who scored with a header three minutes into the first period of extra-time to open the floodgates because he had played superbly well.

 

We all took great confidence from his goal and it was Mark who set up Gordon Strachan for the third before Neale Cooper made it 4-1 for one of the most satisfying wins of all my time at Aberdeen.

 

It was a huge disappointment for me, and indeed Mark, that his time as manager at Pittodrie did not work out as he would have liked.

 

On his day HANS GILLHAUS was unplayable and the fact PSV bought him to replace Ruud Gullit when he left for AC Milan tells its own story.

 

It was only because a certain Brazilian genius called Romario kept him out of the team that Alex Smith was able to bring a man of his quality to Pittodrie for £650,000 in November 1989.

 

It was a fantastic piece of business. Almost instantly, his partnership with Charlie Nicholas looked like dynamite.

 

His ability to hit the back of the net helped us take Rangers to the wire in the league and he was as heartbroken as the rest of us when we lost the title on the last day of the season at Ibrox.

 

He hasn't done half bad for himself in recent years too, working for Roman Abramovich before leaving in the summer to be Feyenoord's technical director.

 

JOHN HEWITT will always be remembered as a scorer of big-game goals.

 

No one will ever forget his match-winning header against Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners' Cup Final.

 

But John still chuckles at the fact that he may not have been on the pitch to score that historic goal after Sir Alex Ferguson blew his top at him.

 

When John came on as a substitute he was supposed to play up front, but he started to drift all over the place.

 

Sir Alex was going crazy on the touchline and was even thinking of bringing him off.

 

But while he was trying to work out what to do with him, Mark McGhee crossed the ball which the Real Madrid keeper Augustin just missed.

 

Players with less concentration may have been put off for that vital split second by Augustin's attempted punch, but not John. He was a brave wee player and he kept his eyes only on the ball which allowed him to head home and write his name in the history books.

 

FRANK McDOUGALL was one of the most deadly finishers I ever played with.

 

He was signed by Sir Alex as a replacement for Mark McGhee and he became a fans favourite when he scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 drubbing of Rangers at Pittodrie in January 1985.

 

And for good measure he then scored all four in a 4-1 win against Celtic.

 

I remember one game against Hearts when Frank had a groin strain and played when maybe he shouldn't have.

 

The next morning he was given a real roasting by the gaffer for his poor performance and reacted badly because he felt he had played when injured and that had been a mitigating factor.

 

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Since then he has told the story to anyone who will listen that he punched Sir Alex in anger and floored him.

 

I can't imagine anyone else has ever done that to Sir Alex and lived to tell the tale!

 

The gaffer used to say that Frank was his greatest ever signing at Aberdeen and there is no higher praise.

 

I rate DUNCAN SHEARER so highly I am sure he would have been an important member of our 1980s squad. Indeed Sir Alex saw Duncan score five times in a reserve game as a teenager and was thinking about signing him, but illness meant he missed a second trial and dropped off the radar.

 

When I was manager I tried to sign him from Swindon but was beaten by Kenny Dalglish at Blackburn.

 

I thought I'd lost my man for good, but Duncan never settled there and I brought him north for £500,000 in 1992 and it was money very well spent.

 

Read more: http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/sport/spl/3877781/McGhee-had-all-you-wish-for-in-hitman.html#ixzz1b7rVc4pJ

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