Sir Alex Ferguson has described Neil Simpson as an "integral" part of his Gothenburg Greats team ahead of his side's testimonial clash with Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
A star-studded Manchester United side touched down at Aberdeen Airport on Tuesday afternoon before being whisked to a Granite City hotel to prepare for the sell-out match.
Among their ranks were Premier League stalwarts Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and Namanja Vidic.
Also expected to play are Man Utd's legendary strike partnership of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.
Speaking exclusively to STV, Sir Alex paid tribute to Simpson, one of his midfield generals during his glittering reign as Dons boss.
He said: "He was one of the first players I signed when he was 16 years of age when I first arrived at the club. He was a totally committed boy, his whole life has been that way; really determined, great engine and he became a real regular in the team really for the period when he first went into the team until the day I left.
"I think he was an integral part of the success, there were maybe more celebrated players and there was fantastic centre backs in McLeish and Miller, who were really the cornerstones of the club.
"You had talented players like Weir and Strachan, but without the Neil Simpsons they wouldn't have been the same team."
Sir Alex also agreed with Neil Simpson's evaluation that the Aberdeen team of the early 80s would have been good enough to win the European Cup. He added: "I can see that, definitely."
Rio Ferdinand, who also made the trip north, added: "I think loyalty in football should be rewarded. I think someone who has been a great servant to their football club over the years fully deserves the opportunity for the fans to celebrate his time at the club.
"For us to come here is great and the gaffer has got ties with the club, so it should be a great evening."
More About Sir Alex Ferguson
- Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson to retire from football management
- Sir Alex Ferguson's public appearance for STV Appeal in Glasgow
- David Moyes hopes for Everton fans' backing after taking Man United job
- David Moyes speaks of 'great honour' at taking over Manchester United role
- Gothenburg Anniversary: Doug Rougvie discusses Aberdeen's Euro triumph
- David Moyes confirmed as new Manchester United boss on six-year deal
- Gothenburg Anniversary: Neil Simpson discusses Aberdeen's triumph