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Mark McGhee recalls a glory night


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Taken from another Site. The Mad House

Comment: Mark McGhee recalls a glory night at Pittodrie and a team spirit that whipped the cream of Germany

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SOON AFTER Aberdeen's ties against Bayern Munich in 1983 a young English student working in Munich wrote to me. Enclosed with the letter was a cutting from the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

 

He had enclosed a translation of the piece which, if my memory serves me correctly, read as follows: "Bayern Munich's Belgian international goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff said after the match with FC Aberdeen - "We realised that we were in for a tough match when looking at the Aberdeen players in the tunnel we noticed that none of them had any teeth!"

 

That still makes me laugh. The intimidating way our players looked in the tunnel of the Olympic Stadium that night reflected the way we played. We came away with a terrific goalless draw in the first leg in Munich, the most complete football performance of our entire European adventure, and it set us up for a memorable night at Pittodrie in the return leg. The contrast was huge. From a technically superb performance in Germany to a typically blood-and-guts display at home. Our never-say-die attitude was never greater than that night at Pittodrie.

 

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Faced with a team who included the striker considered by many to be the best in Europe at that time, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, obviously we were written off. Bayern arrived with the cream of the German national team in their ranks: Paul Breitner, Klaus Augenthaler, Dieter Hoeness (younger brother of Uli), as well as Rummenigge. Those players had an arrogance and self-belief that simply did not allow them to contemplate defeat.

 

When Augenthaler scored to put them 1-0 up after 10 minutes at Pittodrie it was a crucial away goal. We had some task then: score twice against Bayern Munich or we were out of the competition.

 

We equalised through Neil Simpson before half-time but that did not unnerve the Germans. They continued to play their brand of precision, quality passing punctuated with a brilliant display of long range shooting that tested Jim Leighton.

 

My memory of that night suggests that if anyone has a video of the game and edits out the goals they would be left watching a match in which Bayern Munich were by far the better team technically. But we all know that the best team doesn't always win. Determination, team spirit and a manager who is so driven that the players feel that they cannot give up at any stage for fear of letting him down - that was the influence Sir Alex Ferguson had on us - can help produce unlikely results.

 

After an hour Bayern went 2-1 up through Hans Pfugler, so we were back to having to score twice and now there was just half an hour to do it. Each time we fell behind the team tried even harder, simple as that. Blind determination combined with an almost naïve sense of infallibility drove us on to a victory that left the Germans shellshocked and incredulous.

 

When Sir Alex's Manchester United defeated Bayern in the Champions League final in Barcelona in 1999 the Germans were shocked, but not as surprised as they were that night in Aberdeen.

 

Supporters talk about the fantastic atmosphere at Celtic Park being a factor in Celtic's amazing record at home in the Champions League but Pittodrie has its own unique atmosphere. I believe that during the night against Bayern that it reached a level that has never been bettered. It was not constant though. I remember in Jock Brown's commentary he noticed that there were periods of quiet.

 

The supporters wanted that result as much as any of the players. It was too much for them at times, though, and the tension resulted in an emotional overload when Bayern scored their goals. That was only cleared when Alex McLeish equalised for the second time. The release of tension fired the players on to victory. From going to 2-2 John Hewitt popped in our winner within a minute. It was incredible.

 

For Aberdeen to pull anything off when the clubs meet on Thursday the Pittodrie fans will have a huge role to play again. They must remember that match in 1983 and get behind their team in the way they did against FC Copenhagen last month, and if possible in the way they did 25 years ago. How good are Bayern at the moment? Put it this way, if they were in the Champions League this season they would be among the favourites to win it. I watched them draw 2-2 with Bolton in Munich earlier in the Uefa Cup. Franck Ribery was superb until he was surprisingly subbed by Ottmar Hitzfeld.

 

If there is a better player in Europe at this moment then he plays for Manchester United but, believe me, Ribery is some player. The news seems to be that he will miss the games because of a torn thigh muscle. For the sake of neutrals I that he plays: for Jimmy Calderwood and his team I hope Ribery's nowhere to be seen.

 

I'm an optimist. Aberdeen can beat Bayern on Thursday, but they have to believe it's possible. We might have lacked teeth 25 years ago but we had no shortage of self-belief.  

 

Who would you want as Manager for the Bayern game, JC or McGhee?

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I actually think of all Fergie's proteges in management - from his Aberdeen days, not Man U - McGhee is the one who is most capable of creating that kind of self belief. I'm not a JC knocker, however, if things don't work out for him then we could do far worse than make a concerted effort to bring McGhee in. I suspect by that time it may be too late though.

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