Tributes paid to Dons’ star
He was the Dons striker who was so beloved by the Pittodrie faithful that they called him “the mighty atom”.
But now, Ian McNeill has died after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 85.
The forward, who pulled on the red jersey of Aberdeen 10 times during his playing career in the 1950s, went on to have a long association with the club before eventually passing away at a Granite City care home.
Glasgow-born Mr McNeill signed for the Dons in 1949 at just 17, but was called up for National Service in 1952.
He made his senior debut for the club in January 1951 and left five years later to join Leicester City.
After moving into management, he steered Ross County to their first Highland League title in 1967 and later returned for a second spell in charge.
He led Wigan into the Football League in 1978, before joining Chelsea, who were then in the Second Division, as assistant manager under John Neal in 1981.
The duo signed a num- ber of players who went on to become major figures at Stamford Bridge and elsewhere. Among these were Duncan Shearer, Billy Dodds, Kerry Dixon, Steve Clarke, Gordon Durie, Joe McLaughlin and Pat Nevin. He finally retired in 2006.
Dons star Mr Shearer, who was 21 when he was spotted playing for Clachnacuddin in the Highland ranks, had several unsuc- cessful trials before Mr McNeill took him to Chelsea in 1983. He said: “Without that man, I wouldn’t have been a footballer. I’m forever grateful to him.”
Mr McNeill’s son Ian added: “We have been overwhelmed by the warmth and support shown to us by the football community.
“In a newspaper article he was called the Mighty Atom of Pittodrie; he loved that. When his health was declining he would need to take taxis to get around and he would always tell the drivers he was the Mighty Atom of Pittodrie.”
A spokesman for Aberdeen FC said: “It was with great sadness we learned of his passing. Our thoughts are with Ian’s family and friends.” Mr McNeill died at Maryfield West Care Home on Aberdeen’s Queen’s Road.
Ian with the League Cup won by Aberdeen FC