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Roy Aitken

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Roy Aitken
Aitken in September 1982
Personal information
Full name Robert Sime Aitken[1]
Date of birth (1958-11-24) 24 November 1958 (age 62)
Place of birth Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland
Playing position(s) Defender
Youth career
1973–1975 Celtic
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1975–1990 Celtic 484 (40)
1990–1991 Newcastle United 54 (1)
1991–1992 St Mirren 34 (1)
1992–1995 Aberdeen 29 (2)
Total 784 (59)
National team
1976–1984 Scotland U21[2] 16 (2)
1979–1991 Scotland 57 (1)
1990[3] SFA (SFL Centenary) 1 (0)
Teams managed
1995–1997 Aberdeen
2006 Aston Villa (caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Robert Sime "Roy" Aitken (born 24 November 1958)[4] is a Scottish former football player and manager. He made over 480 league appearances for Celtic, and later played for Newcastle United, St Mirren and Aberdeen. Aitken also made 57 international appearances for Scotland. His playing position was either in midfield or defence.

Aitken had become assistant manager at Aberdeen towards the end of his playing career, and was appointed their manager in February 1995. He led the Dons to a Scottish League Cup win in 1995–96, but was sacked in November 1997. He has since coached several clubs, including Leeds United and Aston Villa.

Playing career

Born in Irvine, Ayrshire,[4] Roy grew up in Ardrossan. He signed for Celtic as a youngster at 16 and came through their youth ranks. Aitken was nicknamed The Bear by their supporters due to his large frame and commanding presence. Aitken broke into the Celtic first team as a teenager, first captaining the team in October 1977.[5] Playing as a centre back or defensive midfielder, Aitken made the third-most appearances in the club's history and was particularly noted for his contributions in the club's double-winning 1987–88 season.[6]

Aitken later went on to play for Newcastle United, joining the club for £500,000 in January 1990. He captained the side in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to gain promotion from the Second Division. Having been signed by Jim Smith, he was deemed surplus to requirements when Smith was replaced as manager by Ossie Ardiles and returned to Scotland with St Mirren.[7] He did not remain long at St Mirren, signing for Aberdeen for £100,000 to act as player-assistant manager to Willie Miller.[8]

Aitken won 57 caps for the Scotland national football team, scoring once.[4] He featured at both the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, captaining Scotland at the latter tournament and in 27 of his international appearances.

Management and coaching career

Aitken was appointed manager of Aberdeen in February 1995 after the sacking of Willie Miller.[9][10] At the time, Aberdeen were struggling to avoid relegation, and Aitken made a bright start by winning 2–0 against Rangers in his first game as manager,[10] but then lost to part-time Stenhousemuir in the Scottish Cup by the same scoreline.[11] Aberdeen finished second bottom of the league, but maintained their top league status by defeating Dunfermline Athletic in a two-legged play-off.[10][12]

The following season saw Aitken invest heavily in the transfer market; signing striker Dean Windass for £750,000 and midfielder Paul Bernard for a club record £1 million.[10] Bernard struggled to justify his expensive transfer fee[13] whilst Windass' time at Pittodrie was hampered by his on-field indiscipline.[14] Nevertheless, Aitken led Aberdeen to silverware when they won the Scottish League Cup on 26 November 1995, beating Dundee 2–0 in the final.[15]

On being sacked by Aberdeen in November 1997 (after a 5–0 loss to Dundee United), Aitken turned his attention to coaching. In February 1998 he was appointed head coach of the Maldives national football team but resigned a month later over the poor facilities available to the team.[16] After obtaining his UEFA Pro Licence at the Scottish Football Association's Largs training centre,[17] Aitken went on to become a coach with Leeds United before rejoining former Leeds coach David O'Leary at Aston Villa.[18]

On 20 July 2006, he was named caretaker manager of Aston Villa after O'Leary's departure the previous evening.[19] Aitken managed Villa to three pre-season victories before being replaced by Martin O'Neill.[20]

In January 2007, he was appointed as one of Alex McLeish's assistants with the Scotland national football team.[21] On 28 November 2007, he followed McLeish, newly appointed as manager of Birmingham City, to the club as first-team coach alongside Andy Watson.[22]

In July 2010, Aitken left Birmingham City to join David O'Leary in Dubai with Al-Ahli.[23] Afterwards taking up the role as Director of Football at Al-Ahli.


International appearances

Scotland national team[4]
Year Apps Goals
1979 2 0
1980 3 0
1982 1 0
1983 4 0
1984 1 0
1985 6 0
1986 9 1
1987 8 0
1988 8 0
1989 8 0
1990 6 0
1991 1 0
Total 57 1




  • Scottish league titles: 1976–77, 1978–79, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1985–86, 1987–88
  • Scottish Cup: 1977, 1980, 1985, 1988, 1989
  • Scottish League Cup: 1982–83


  • Scottish League Cup: 1995–96

Individual honours

See also


  1. ^ "Roy Aitken". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Scotland Under-21 player Roy Aitken". Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  3. ^ On this day, back in 1990, a Scottish League XI beat Scotland 1-0 at Hampden Park in the SFL Centenary match with the goal coming from then Aberdeen Football Club star Hans Gillhaus, Scottish Professional Football League via Facebook, 18 August 2016
  4. ^ a b c d Roy Aitken at the Scottish Football Association
  5. ^ McConnell, Alison (10 August 2017). "Roy Aitken pipped Kieran Tierney to Celtic's youngest ever captain accolade". The Herald. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  6. ^ Al Ahli to gain from Roy Aitken's leadership values
  7. ^ Happy birthday to the former Newcastle United captain nicknamed 'the Bear'
  8. ^ Managers: Roy Aitken
  9. ^ "Aberdeen sever all ties with club legend Willie Miller". BBC Sport. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d "1995-1997 Roy Aitken". Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Stenhousemuir's historic moment". The Independent. 20 February 1995. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Play-offs and Test Matches 1891-date". Scottish Football Historical Archive. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  13. ^ "Bernard can leave Aberdeen". BBC Sport. 4 October 2000. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  14. ^ "A Dons Cult Hero - Dean Windass". Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  15. ^ McKinney, David (27 November 1995). "Dodds and Shearer end Aberdeen's wait". The Independent. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  16. ^ Cameron, Neil (17 March 1998). "Aitken Leaves Maldives Post". The Scotsman  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  17. ^ Winter, Henry (29 November 2007). "England could learn from Scottish system". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  18. ^ "Aitken ready to lead Villa until whenever". ESPNsoccernet. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  19. ^ "Aitken at helm after O'Leary exit". BBC Sport. 21 July 2006. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  20. ^ Tattum, Colin (17 April 2008). "Roy Aitken: I want to win Aston Villa derby for Birmingham City". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  21. ^ "McLeish unveiled as Scotland boss". BBC Sport. 29 January 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  22. ^ "Birmingham unveil McLeish as boss". BBC Sport. 28 November 2007. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  23. ^ "Roy Aitken quits Birmingham City for Al Ahli". BBC Sport. 7 July 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
  24. ^ "Celtic player Roy Aitken". Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  25. ^ "Roy Aitken inducted into Scottish Hall of Fame". BT Sport. 21 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Danny McGrain
Celtic captain
Succeeded by
Paul McStay
Preceded by
Andy Thorn
Newcastle United captain
Succeeded by
Kevin Scott

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