It is 20 years since Aberdeen FC became the last Scottish club to taste European glory.
By Simon Hart
As Celtic FC prepare to face FC Porto in a city bathed in sunshine, those with memories of the last Scottish success in European club competition will recall considerably less clement conditions.
It was 20 years ago that Aberdeen FC beat Real Madrid CF to lift the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup on a night of pouring rain in Gothenburg. John Hewitt, the substitute whose diving header won the cup in extra time, said the match was very nearly postponed due to the downpour. "The conditions were treacherous," he told uefa.com. "The referee at one point was thinking of delaying the game by 24 hours because it was raining so much."
First European trophy
Instead the match went ahead and Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen beat Madrid to claim their first - and only - European trophy. "We had self-belief - we felt we could compete with the best and we had a manager who would accept nothing but the best," said Hewitt. "We had so many leaders - people like Willie Miller, Alex McLeish, Gordon Strachan - so many guys with real character. Madrid were a team full of stars but we knew not to fear anybody."
'The top team'
Aberdeen stated their intent by thrashing FC Sion of Switzerland 7-0 and 4-1 in the preliminary round. KS Dinamo Tirana and KKS Lech Poznan were overcome next before a memorable quarter-final against FC Bayern München. "Alex and Archie [Knox, Ferguson's assistant] had all the teams watched and they knew Bayern were the top team in the competition that year," remembered Hewitt. "They knew that if we could get through that, there was no reason we could not go all the way."
After a 0-0 draw in Munich, fans camped overnight outside Aberdeen's Pittodrie stadium to buy tickets for the return. Aberdeen were twice behind but came back to win 3-2, super sub Hewitt scoring the winner just 60 seconds after McLeish had equalised. After a 5-2 aggregate defeat of Belgium's KSV Thor Waterschei in the semi-final, Ferguson kept the pressure off his players ahead of the final.
"The wives and girlfriends were put up in a five-star hotel in Gothenburg but we were in a hotel in the middle of nowhere," said Hewitt. "We played quiz games in the evening to try and relax. Before the match, he said: 'Go out and enjoy yourselves. I'd hate for you to come back in here thinking, I wish I'd played better, I wish I'd tried harder'."
Aberdeen made the perfect start, Eric Black scoring after nine minutes. However, Madrid drew level through a Juanito penalty and extra time beckoned. Hewitt's moment had arrived. "Peter Weir waltzed past three or four players down the left, then Mark McGhee took it on further, beat the full-back and put in a great left-foot cross," he recalled. "I remember watching Mark cross the ball in. I knew once the goalkeeper had decided to come he would not get it and it was a case of making sure I just directed it towards the goal."
Moment in the sun
Hewitt, who was only 20 at the time, remembered the reception the team enjoyed on their return to Aberdeen. "We saw all these hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets and then it really sank into us what we had achieved." Hewitt, a native Aberdonian who now entertains business clients at the club's home games, recalled how "the town was buzzing - it gave the whole place a lift". Scots certainly know how to celebrate. Seville can expect the same should Celtic lift the UEFA Cup on Wednesday.