Neale Cooper, one of Aberdeen’s European Cup Winners’ Cup heroes, has died after being found injured outside his home, the club have confirmed.
Cooper, who was 54, was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in the early hours of Sunday morning but lost his fight for life on Monday afternoon.
Aberdeen wrote on their Twitter account: “The club is deeply shocked and saddened to hear that our legendary midfielder and Gothenburg Great, Neale Cooper has tragically passed away.”
Police Scotland earlier confirmed officers had been called to a report of a man who had collapsed within a communal stairwell in the Ferguson Court area of Bucksburn at around 1:45 a.m. on Sunday.
Detective Inspector David Howieson said: “Police enquiries have been ongoing throughout the night to establish the full circumstances however the incident does not appear to be suspicious.”
Police appealed for the driver of a black people carrier taxi, which picked up Cooper along with another man and two women at about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday at Union Street, to contact them.
Cooper was in Sir Alex Ferguson’s team which beat Real Madrid 2-1 in Gothenburg in May 1983 before overcoming Hamburg later that year to clinch the European Super Cup.
He also won two league winners’ medals following the Dons’ championship triumphs of 1984 and 1985, while he won the Scottish Cup four times and League Cup once.
The combative midfielder also played for Aston Villa, Rangers, Reading — although injury hampered his progress at all three clubs — and had a second spell with the Dons.
He rediscovered his form and fitness at Dunfermline and Ross County before managing the latter team and also Hartlepool, Gillingham and Peterhead.
He had been working for Saltire Energy and attended a 35th anniversary gathering of the Cup Winners’ Cup triumph with his former teammates earlier this month.
Cooper’s former teams and colleagues expressed their shock as the news broke.
Another Gothenburg Great, Neil Simpson, wrote on Twitter: “Devastated & heartbroken. Will miss your cheeky smile, infectious laugh,Fergie impressions,all the dressing room stories & your friendship. Loved playing alongside you. Taken too soon. Thoughts with your Mum and all your lovely family x RIP Neale ”Tattie” Cooper Never forgotten x”
Ross County said: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Neale Cooper passed away earlier today. Our sincere sympathy and heartfelt condolences go out to the family at this difficult time. RIP Neale.”
Hartlepool stated that everyone at the club was “absolutely devastated” to hear the news, adding: “Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with his family and friends at this time. We are heartbroken.”