Scottish goalkeeping legend Jim Leighton has joined the ranks of an Aberdeenshire boys club.
The Dons icon will head up Middlefield Wasps’ goalkeeping academy, and act as an ambassador for the club off the pitch.
Mark McCready, spokesperson for Middlefield Wasps, said that the Aberdeen icon's appointment represents a massive coup for the club, and they are looking forward to the new season.
“It’s a great honour for someone of Jim’s standard to be associated with the club. It will be amazing for all of our goalies. Jim Leighton? You just can’t get better than that!” he said. McCready added that Leighton has said he “can’t wait to start”.
The former Scotland number one runs his own goalkeeping school in Aberdeen and was invited to hand out trophies at Middlefield’s end of season presentation night, where he told club president Nick Runcie that he was looking to do more coaching following his departure from mentoring the keepers in the Scotland Under 21s squad.
McCready said he recalled the moment “a few jaws hit the floor” when Runcie announced at their committee meeting on July 31 that Leighton would be joining the Wasps’ team.
McCready also told how one goalkeeper in particular, Lewis Mitchell of the Under 19s, is “absolutely buzzing to get to work with someone like Jim Leighton”.
Andrew Clarke, a coach at the club, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. When Jim came along to our end of season trophy presentation he stood there and handed out trophies to every single one of our 250 kids at the club. Fair play to him, he was fantastic."
Leighton started his football career with Dalry Thistle and also played for Manchester United and Hibernian during 23 years in the professional game. Wither Aberdeen he won the league three times, the Scottish Cup four times, and was part of the side that lifted the European Cup Winners' Cup and the European Super Cup, beating Real Madrid and Hamburg respectively. With Manchester United he was in the squad that won the 1990 FA Cup, and he was capped 91 times for Scotland. Since retiring, in addition to running his goalkeeping club in the Granite City, Leighton has coached with the Aberdeen first team (until 2015) and at Highland League outfit Huntly FC.
Middlefield Wasps were formed in 1968 and have age groups at 11-a-side and 7-a-side, and also have a disability group in the making.