John McMaster has recalled seeing Sir Alex Ferguson being trampled in a puddle during the crowning moment of his hugely successful reign as Aberdeen manager.
McMaster was looking back at Aberdeen’s European Cup Winners’ Cup triumph against Real Madrid ahead of the 40th anniversary of the final at Gothenburg’s Ullevi Stadium on Thursday.
The midfielder had been drafted into the team at left-back following an injury to Stuart Kennedy and was close to the Dons dugout when John Hewitt headed an extra-time winner to give Aberdeen a 2-1 victory.
Speaking to Red TV, McMaster said: “Juanito was the wee winger, the tricky winger, and I was the left-back who was supposed to get exploited but you know something? Not one of us had a bad game. We played to our potential.
“I can remember the boss saying to us before we went out, the last thing he said was, ‘you want to come in, look yourself in the mirror and say you gave it your all’.
“And that’s what we did. Because we should have beaten them in the 90 minutes.
“When Johnny scored his goal, there was a bit of commotion in the dugout.
“I had a wee assist in the goal. I passed the ball to Peter Weir, who beat two men, so I’m taking that as an assist!
“Mark McGhee put in a ball with his left foot. Once he gets on to his left foot, he would fall over it, but he puts in this ball as if he’s been a left-footer all his life and Hewitt gets on the end of it. Bang.
“I looked over to see what was happening in the dugout. They are all getting out: Big Ben (Bryan Gunn), Andy Watson, Archie (Knox), Teddy (Scott) and the boss gets up and he falls over with his jacket, his Fergie jacket.
“He is in the puddle and everybody has jumped over the top of him. It was brilliant.
“See when you talk about it afterwards, what a laugh, but everything grows arms and legs.
“After that it was all about enjoying yourself. It was the best night of my life, honestly.
“We won the league and that was a major thing, but to win a European trophy against a wee team like Madrid, it’s not very often that happens.”
While the celebrations were going on, one man could not shake off the mistake that led to Real’s equaliser, although words of comfort from Ferguson helped him on his way.
With Aberdeen leading through Eric Black’s early opener, Alex McLeish had been short with a passback, having not followed his own advice of lifting passes off the sodden grass, and Juanito gave the Spaniards the lead from the spot after Jim Leighton brought down a forward as a consequence.
Ferguson had a go at his centre-back at half-time before assistant Knox broke up the argument and the Dons went out and deservedly claimed victory.
McLeish said: “At the end of the game he said, ‘listen, I’m really proud of you’.
“I was in the showers feeling sorry for myself. Everyone was getting ready and singing and drinking champagne and I was still thinking about my mistake.
“He came into the showers and said, ‘listen, I am really proud of you. A lot of players would have crumbled. I know you would have wanted to dig a hole for yourself in the first half after the pass’.
“It’s still in my head but, if it was meant to be for us to win the cup, then it was a good thing.”