Gothenburg Greats given freedom of city 40 years after Real Madrid triumph

The Dons heroes that defeated the mighty Real Madrid in Sweden were honoured in a special ceremony at Pittodrie.

Members of Aberdeen’s 1983 Cup Winners’ Cup conquering squad have been awarded the freedom of the city at a special ceremony.

The Dons defeated Real Madrid, the last side to do so in the final of a European competition, 2-1 at Gothenburg’s Ullevi Stadium on May 11, 1983.

Thousands of members of the Pittodrie faithful made the trip to Sweden by air, land and sea to watch as goals from Eric Black and John Hewitt secured a famous upset for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

Aberdeen captain Willie Miller holds aloft the Cup winners Cup in 1983.SNS Group

Former players including captain Willie Miller and former Scotland managers Alex McLeish and Gordon Strachan were among those to receive the honour on the pitch in front of hundreds of fans.

Manager Ferguson, who had already been awarded the freedom of the city, was unable to attend the ceremony, but described the occasion as “wonderful” in a specially-recorded message.

“I think back to 40 years ago and who can forget that memorable night?” he said.

“The players were fantastic, the support was fantastic, thousands of them on the boat, the St Clair going across the North Sea.

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack accepted the honour on behalf of the club.

“Aberdeen were the last team to beat Real Madrid in a European final, 40 years ago. So well done to the players, well done to the club and thank you.”

READ MORE: Gothenburg Greats: How Aberdeen made history with Cup Winners’ Cup win

The Dons followed up their historic win in Sweden with another later that year, beating European Cup winners Hamburg of Germany in the Super Cup.

That marked the last time a Scottish club lifted a European trophy.

Current chairman Dave Cormack – who will watch the current side continue their chase for European football against Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday – described the award as “humbling”.

He added it was the “highest honour” the club could hope to receive.

Aberdeen’s Lord Provost, David Cameron, said: “It’s a fitting tribute that we can confer the freedom of the city to the Gothenburg greats during the 40th anniversary celebrations of that famous night.”

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