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16 October 2014

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The New Firm and the Dons' Cup-Winners' Cup glory in 1983

The Dons knew this was always going to be a hard match but they gave themselves a great chance with a 0-0 draw in the away tie in the Olympic Stadium in Munich with a backs-to-the-wall performance, Leighton, McLeish and Miller earning their cash in a great team performance.

With the tie finely balanced, Pittodrie was a sell-out for the second leg as the mighty Bayern Munich came to town. Not for the first time things would not go to plan, and if the Dons would progress any further in Europe then they would have to do it the hard way.

The Germans were in front twice in the tie, 1-0 then 2-1 with Neil Simpson levelling for the Dons before the Germans edged back in front in the match. Fergie sent on super sub John Hewitt to see if he could get on the end of anything that his side would create.

With time running out the Dons won a free kick. Gordon Strachan and John McMaster feigned a mix-up over who was to take the kick. Suddenly, as the Germans fell for the ploy, Strachan turned and played a perfect ball on to his fellow red head Alex McLeish. The big defender rose above the Bayern defence and headed the ball into the net.

The Dons had drawn level but that would not be good enough, they would still be out of Europe. Almost immediately, a long ball found the head of Eric Black who headed goalwards and as the keeper parried the ball out, super sub John Hewitt was on hand to knock the ball under his legs and into the net. Pittodrie went berserk! The cheers from the Dons fans could be heard all around Europe! They had came from behind and knocked out the mighty Bayern Munich!

The semi final draw paired the Dons with Waterschei of Belgium and the home leg was first so the Dons would want a decent advantage to take to Belgium for the second leg. No-one could have imagined the Dons taking a four goal advantage with them as they swept a side the Belgians with a 5-1 win and a superb performance from Dougie Bell!

In the second leg they were to lose 1-0, their only defeat en route to the final. You would have thought that they had just gone out of the tournament such was the mood in the dressing room, but that was the standard set by this Aberdeen team.

Yet the Dons had done it, a European final against the famous Real Madrid beckoned. Gothenburg would be a place that the Dons fans would keep close to their hearts as 11 May 1983 would be the Dons' day of destiny.

Fans made their way to Sweden via the St Clair ferry, by car, by plane and any way they could to see their heroes take on Real Madrid in the Cup-Winners' Cup Final. In Sweden the heavens opened and the rain poured down. Would this help the Dons?

The fans and players did not care as they got soaked in the Swedish rain as their heroes were about to face the biggest match in their lives. A good start to the match was needed and after Eric Black had smashed the crossbar with a great volley the Dons took an early lead.

A Gordon Strachan corner was headed on by Alex McLeish only for Eric Black to turn and spin on the rebound to put the Dons 1-0 in front. The Dons' joy was short-lived as a short back pass from Alex McLeish was latched on to by Santillana as it caught up on the wet pitch and Jim Leighton had no option but to bring him down.

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