Trib­utes to for­mer Dons striker McNeill

Obit­u­ary: Dons striker of 50s dies, aged 85

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JON HEBDITCH

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 pulled on the red jer­sey of Aberdeen in the 1950s.

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 had his ca­reer in­ter­rupted when he was called up for Na­tional Ser­vice in 1952.

He made his se­nior desec­ond but 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 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 num­ber 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 Shearer, who was 21 when he was spot­ted play­ing for Clach­nacud­din in the High­land ranks, had sev­eral un­suc­cess­ful tri­als be­fore Mr McNeill took him to Chelsea in 1983.

He said: “With­out that man, I wouldn’t have been a foot­baller, there’s no ques­tion about that.

“I’m for­ever grate­ful to him. With­out Ian, I wouldn’t have gone on to achieve play­ing for Scot­land or Aberdeen, hav­ing a de­cent but short ca­reer. I owe ev­ery­thing to him.”

His son Ian added: “We have been over­whelmed by the warmth and sup­port shown to us by the foot­ball com­mu­nity.

“It was in a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle he was called the Mighty Atom of Pit­to­drie; he loved that line.”

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.”

EX-DON: ‘Mighty Atom’ Ian McNeill had a long as­so­ci­a­tion with Aberdeen FC

Ian McNeill in 1952

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