Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes said yesterday he would be “eternally grateful” to the late Neale Cooper for his unswerving support at Pittodrie.
The Gothenburg Great died on Monday, aged 54, after he fell and was taken to hospital in Aberdeen last weekend.
Mr McInnes revealed his sadness and shock at the news and spoke about the encouragement and laughs which the pair had shared during their many meetings at Pittodrie.
He told the club’s website: “I am devastated by the loss of Neale. It is so desperately unfair on Neale and his family to be taken at such a young age.
“Although I had encountered Neale previously, I got to know him better in recent years and he had this unique ability of making me and other people feel instantly better.
“He lit up a room and was such a likeable guy. He was one of life’s good guys and we will ultimately be a poorer club without him around.
“Neale would often stick his head in to my office on a matchday, always quick with a joke. He often used to say that he had his boots with him and was ready to play.
“He was always very supportive of myself and my players and it’s clear he defended AFC fiercely at every turn.
“On a personal basis, I will be eternally grateful to him for that.
“His greatness on the pitch will forever be cherished, but his greatness will be always be felt by everyone associated with AFC.
“We will all miss him terribly.”
His tribute was echoed by another legend of Aberdeen’s triumphant European Cup-Winners Cup campaign in 1983.
Stuart Kennedy said: “Neale was one of the most generous, funny, and nicest people you could ever meet. And he was a terrific player as well.
“We were celebrating together just a week earlier at the Gothenburg Greats 35th anniversary night at Pittodrie and he was in fine fettle.
“You get some footballers who divide opinion, and some who are loved by their own fans, but not by anybody else.
“But Neale was loved wherever he went and I am not surprised his passing has caused so much shock and sadness.”