“We had a belief that we could do special things in the game in Scotland” Willie Miller Interview

By Keiran Fleming

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen are etched in the memory of football fans across the country. Their win over Real Madrid in the 1983 European Cup Winners Cup final will always be seen as the greatest moment in the club’s history.

However, the season after saw them accomplish another accolade, they became the first and only team to complete the domestic double outside of the Old Firm. Saint Johnstone will be looking to match this achievement when they take on Hibs in the Scottish Cup final.

Aberdeen legend Willie Miller always knew the Dons would embark on one of the greatest runs in Scottish football: “From the beginning of the 80’s we had a belief that we could do special things in the game in Scotland. The important thing is you had to deal with the occasion of being at Hampden and being in finals. There’s probably a lot of fear that you won’t win it. That was a driver for our team.”

The 1983-84 season is one that won’t be forgotten in the North-East. The Gothenburg greats beat Celtic to the title by seven points. They would face the Hoops at Hampden for the 1984 Scottish Cup.

Both teams scored in the first 90 minutes which forced the game into extra time. A Mark McGhee 98th minute goal proved to be the winner and sealed the historic double for the Red Army.

The fan voted ‘greatest Aberdeen player of all time’ thinks the Saints may have a slight advantage off the back of their previous triumphs this season: “You need the belief that you can lift trophies. I think with St Johnstone lifting one trophy so far they will have a bit of belief that they can do the second trophy. This (Scottish Cup) is the one that really matters.

“I’ve won four Scottish Cups; these are the ones that stand out for me. The league cups are good, they’re important but the prime trophy of cup competitions in Scotland is the one at the end of the season. It’s a huge accolade for any team that lifts that trophy, especially any team outside the Old Firm.”

The Dons icon believes there is more pressure when it comes to winning a double: “You want to make that history, you want to take that leap, that step. You want to make your career something special and that makes the pressure come on, sometimes that can affect performances. At the end of the day it’s about getting the result.

“I’ve played in cup finals where we played well, played in some where we haven’t played as well as we can but we still managed to lift the trophy and I’ve played in finals where the opposition were just better than us. If you perform to your top level that’s all you can do.

“I think there would be a fair bit of pressure on Saint Johnstone knowing the fact that if they did manage to do the double it would be something quite extraordinary.”

The man once described as ‘the best penalty box defender in the world’ by Sir Alex sees the double as one of the biggest accomplishments in his time at Pittodrie: “It’s a big achievement there is no doubt about that, there’s not many teams that do it.

“I have had enough opportunities and fortune to have many highlights in my career. That (the double) certainly is one that can go along with the first league title in 1980 and the European cup win which is obviously huge.”

The 65 capped former international looks at the upcoming Scottish Cup final as a chance for both teams to write themselves into the history books: “It’s a huge occasion for Hibs, it’s a great opportunity for them. How long it took them to lift the trophy in the first place, to do it so soon after would be such a fabulous achievement.

“Of course if Saint Johnstone does it with Callum Davidson in his first season, he’ll be thinking the football management gig is quite an easy one. If he could lift the double in his first season it would be quite extraordinary for him to do that.”

NE98 would like to thank Willie Miller for taking the time to speak to Keiran.

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