Dons legend Dougie Bell reckons the current team can replicate one of Pittodrie’s great European nights against Rijeka.
Aberdeen face the Croatians tomorrow evening in the second leg of the Europa League third qualifying round tie.
After last Thursday’s first leg, the Reds start 2-0 behind. Just once have they overturned such a deficit after the first leg in Europe.
It was in March 1984 when they recovered from 2-0 down against Hungarian outfit Ujpest in the quarter-final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Former Dons midfielder Bell, who made 185 appearances for the club between 1979 and 1985, hopes Derek McInnes can mastermind a comeback against Rijeka like Sir Alex Ferguson did against Ujpest.
Bell had starring roles in great Euro wins against the likes of Bayern Munich, Ipswich, Hamburg and Waterschei and started against Ujpest, which he also puts in the same bracket.
The 59-year-old said: “The way the game went against Ujpest it was really exciting and it was great to be involved in. It was different to a lot of the other European games we had.
“At 2-0 we were maybe ruled out, but the score meant it wasn’t impossible to come back.We started well and got the first and it meant we were right back in the tie.
“So far this season Aberdeen have scored a lot of goals at Pittodrie (10 in three games) so they’ll be confident of turning it round tomorrow.
“If they can get the first goal they’ve got a good chance.
“It’s good if the fans are patient because even if it’s 0-0 with 20 minutes to go and Aberdeen get one, they’ve still got a great chance.
“If Rijeka concede they’ll drop deeper and give away more chances, so it’s good if the fans are patient. It will help the team.”
Mark McGhee hit a hat-trick 35 years ago as Aberdeen saw off Ujpest in extra-time.
Bell was a happy man to get through after taking stick from Fergie after the first leg and following a League Cup semi-final loss to Celtic.
Having missed winning the Cup Winners’ Cup against Real Madrid in Gothenburg a year earlier, he was keen to retain the trophy.
Bell, who won three Premier Division titles, two Scottish Cups and the European Super Cup with the Dons, added: “It was good that game, for me and the team.
“The week before it we played Celtic in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final.
“We lost 1-0 and I’d given away the penalty which put us out, the late Tommy Burns dived over my leg.
“We did the double that year domestically of the Scottish Cup and Premier Division, so it was a downer because we could have had the treble.
“So that wasn’t great and then away from home against Ujpest their first goal came from a free-kick.
“I’d been in the wall and I thought ‘that’s not going anywhere near the goal’ and let it go by and it bent into the top corner and we lost 2-0. Fergie gave me pelters saying I’d knocked us out of the two cups – the League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup.
“Against Ujpest at home we started really well and made a lot of chances.
“It took patience, but we got the breakthrough in the first half and kept going scoring late on to take it to extra time and then winning it.
“I was delighted to get through after the loss we’d had and that got us into the semi-finals again.
“I’d missed the final the previous year with injury, so I was desperate to get to the final again.
“Unfortunately we got beat off Porto in the semi-finals, which was a big blow to me because I’d played all the European games that year.
“It’s a big ask for Aberdeen tomorrow, but if they get the first Rijeka will be jittery, the momentum of the tie changes and they’ll have a good chance.”