REAL MADRID hardman Paco Bonet shattered Neil Simpson’s nose in the 1983 Cup Winners’ Cup final.
But the equally unflinching Aberdeen legend got his own back by breaking Bonet’s HEART.
Simpson had the last laugh after being floored by the elbow[/caption]
Alex Ferguson’s sensational Reds became only the third Scottish club to lift a major European trophy.
Seven months later they did it again by claiming the Super Cup with victory over Hamburg and remain the country’s only team to win two Euro gongs.
And Simpson, with over 300 games in 12 years for the club where he’s now their pathways manager, was instrumental in both glory games.
The midfield workhorse played every tie leading up to the Gothenburg date with destiny, scoring against Bayern Munich en route.
He went on to help them reach the semi-finals in 1984 plus the European Cup last eight in 1986.
Now Simpson, 61, is relishing the 40th anniversary celebrations to mark that incredible night at the Ullevi Stadium.
He said: “I actually broke my nose at the start of the second half. Paco Bonet, the centre-half, was running alongside me and elbowed me in the face. The cartilage was right at the side of my nose and I couldn’t breathe through one of my nostrils for a year, until I could get the operation.
“I was down on the ground for about 30 seconds.
“I was really dazed but it was cold and wet so I shook myself, got up and got on with it.
“The conditions definitely suited me. I loved slide tackles. You saw a few skimming across the surface and it suited Neale Cooper as well.
“We could also play as well. We were up against Gallego and Stielike, two international players. We were never fazed against these players, it was just a challenge.
“We had also played at Scotland Under-21s. I had played against Matthaus, Gullit, Bergomi and Baresi.
“It was euphoria at the final whistle. Just jumping up and thinking, ‘This is amazing’.
“The bonus was over £2,000. I was getting married that summer. We also won the Super Cup so it was a good year.
“I was 21, John Hewitt was 20 and Neale Cooper and Eric Black were 19. Somebody told me that we were the youngest pairing to win a European final.”
Gothenburg reunions will always be tinged with deep sadness due to the absence of the late Cooper.
Simpson added: “He was a great team-mate and also the life and soul of the dressing room. In terms of camaraderie and getting people going he was brilliant. I just laughed at him.
“We did a get-together with the players the year he died. I was on stage with him and I just had tears going down my face. He was so funny.
“He told story after story and did Fergie impressions. But as soon as you had to go out on the pitch, he was someone you could rely on, technically he was very good and good in the air.
“He would never let you down. He was a great character and player for the club.”
Aberdeen followed their Cup Winners’ Cup magic by winning the Scottish Cup ten days later.
Coming from a farming background, he’s the only Don who could probably take advantage of the quaint Freedom of the City privilege.
Simpson said: “I supported Aberdeen and came from a farming background. Being a country lad, I can drive my sheep down Union Street!
“I went on trial at English clubs but really wanted to play for my hometown team. I had a dream about setting up Joe Harper for a goal, and on my debut I did.”