Jim Leighton is one of Scotland’s football legends, the Gothenburg Great goalkeeper who represented his country 91 times.
The former Aberdeen and Manchester United star has now taken on a new challenge, which he has grasped with the same commitment he displayed when defying opponents between the sticks.
The 60-year-old SFA Hall of Fame member has become an ambassador for Sue Ryder Dee View Court in Aberdeen, which is the only specialist neurological centre in the country.
It looks after 24 residents with conditions including Huntington’s Disease, severe stroke, cerebral palsy and acquired brain injury.
Mr Leighton has made several visits to the centre and yesterday launched an impassioned plea for people and businesses to help the charity reach its £3.9million target for a major expansion of the premises in Kincorth.
He said: “It is an amazing place.
“Normally when you visit a care home the residents are older than you, but here you sometimes meet people half your age and, while that is sad, you never see the staff or the folk they are looking after without a smile on their face.
“The care and support which is offered 24/7 is unbelievable and the support for the appeal has been tremendous with £2.9m already raised.
“It is fabulous that the centre is going to be able to provide places for 20 more people once the building work is complete, but now it’s time for one last push.
“The walls have been built – the next stage is putting the roof on the new building.”
Mr Leighton will be joined by his former Dons colleagues, John Hewitt and Neil Simpson, at a special charity dinner at the Marcliffe on Thursday, June 27.
He doesn’t see his former teammates as regularly as when they were players in the 1980s, but last May their bond was highlighted in poignant fashion after the death of Dons legend Neale Cooper.
He said: “It was a massive shock because he was the youngest lad in the Gothenburg team, but he was also the biggest character and whenever the rest of us meet again it will never be the same.
“I was in America when he died and, sadly, I missed the funeral. But, believe me, I was there in spirit.”
Further information about the dinner can be found at https://www.sueryder.org/support-us/fundraise/events/dee-view-court-gothenburg-greats-football-dinner-2019