While the common belief is that you must have a daft streak to be a goalkeeper there is nothing daft about Jim Leighton who distinguished himself with the Dons and went on to become the most capped Scottish keeper of all time. Not many players hold the distinction of representing their country at four World Cups, but Leighton did just that in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1998. In 1977 Jim arrived at Pittodrie from Dalry Thistle hoping to carve out a professional career in the game. His early career involved a spell with Deveronvale and learning his trade under the great Bobby Clark.
By 1978 Alex Ferguson choose Jim as replacement for the injured Clark for the season opener against Hearts at Tynecastle. It was a real test for the young keeper. 90 minutes later Fergie knew he had a real talent in his midst. It was after the Dons title success in 1980 that Jim was handed the No1 jersey for keeps and that was the beginning of an incredible success story. Jim Leighton won the first of a clutch of winners' medals when he was in the Aberdeen side that won the Scottish Cup at Hampden in 1982. It was the beginning a golden age for the Dons and along with Alex McLeish and Willie Miller in front of him the Dons defence with Jim Leighton went on to become the meanest in British football. That laid the foundation for success at both home and in Europe.
On 13th October 1982 Jim earned the first of his 91 Scotland caps against East Germany at Hampden Park. Over the next 17 years Leighton amassed his record haul of caps, and his international career peaked in 1998 when he played for Scotland in the opening game of the World Cup in France against holders Brazil. In between times Jim Leighton was in the Aberdeen team that won three Scottish Cups in succession as well as the ECWC and Super Cup in 1983. Two years later and with successive Premier League championships in the bag, Aberdeen won the Scottish Cup again in 1986 with Jim in the side when they cruised to a 3-0 win over Hearts.
Two years later Jim followed Alex Ferguson to Manchester Utd. After a spell in England Jim returned north and played at Dens park and Easter Road and winning international recognition again. That prompted a return to Pittodrie when Roy Aitken brought Jim 'home' in 1997. A year later Leighton made his 500th competitive appearance for the Dons against Dundee Utd at Tannadice before eventually retiring after receiving a horrific injury in the opening minutes of the 2000 Scottish Cup Final. Leighton remains at Pittodrie in a coaching role.