As Eoin Jess appears on STV Sports Centre: Friday Night Football to discuss his playing career, his brush with his own mortality and the future as a coach at Nottingham Forest, it’s time to take a look at the moments in his career which defined him as one of Aberdeen’s favourite sons.
All four at Dunfermline
The day a goal scoring hero was born. Jess, 21, travelled with Aberdeen to East End Park and single-handedly dismantled the Pars in a 4-1 win in 1991.
His first and third goals were close range efforts from low crosses from either flank but his first and fourth probably live long in the memory of many Dons fans.
His second goal, coming in the first half, showcased what was to come from him in his career. Collecting the ball in his own half, he raced forward before playing a clever one-two, taking the ball into the box. With a defender diving across to block his shot, he dummied his effort to leave him with a clear shot at the second attempt.
His fourth also showed off his excellent close control. Breaking down the left, he homed in on the home goalkeeper. Under pressure, he lost the ball in a collision with the keeper and a defender but produced an excellent touch to steer the ball away from both with his back to goal, before spinning and turning in his shot.
Aberdeen 3-0 Celtic
Together with Dutch strike partner Hans Gillhaus, Jess took apart Celtic in an emphatic win in November 1990. In front of a terraced Beach End, Jess gave the hosts the lead when he picked up the scraps on the edge of the box, whipping the ball past Packie Bonner.
Gillhaus made it two soon after, shrugging off a rough challenge to get in free down the left before squeezing the ball in at the front post.
In a match dubbed the ‘Eoin Jess show’, the young striker pounced on a poor attempt at pass back in the second half to squeeze the ball through Bonner’s legs from close range and complete a memorable win.
That goal against Rangers
Already long established at Pittodrie, then 24-year-old Jess’ moment of magic gave the Dons the lead. Picking the ball up on the halfway line, he surged through a hole in the Rangers midfield, with out-of-position players frantically trying to keep up.
Approaching a wall of defenders, Jess’ answer was to unleash a rocket from 30 yards with a marvellous piece of technique, lifting the ball high into Billy Thomson’s net in front of the travelling support in a 1-1 draw in 1995.
A memorable hat-trick at Tannadice
One of Jess’ most complete performances in an Aberdeen jersey, scoring all the goals in a 3-2 win for his team. The number four’s first underlined his enthusiasm, collecting a flick in midfield, he turned his marker superbly in the centre before advancing with the ball at feet.
Playing a one-two on the edge of the box, he collected the ball on the left before firing in on his left boot. His shot found the net thanks to a deflection but was just reward for his burst forward.
His second needed no such fortune. After some sublime passing and probing play from his team-mates, Jess was perfectly placed 25 yards from goal to fire in an unstoppable right footed shot low into the bottom left corner of the net.
His third? Well it was a tap in but the forward showed his ability to be in the right place at the right time to turn in a cutback, sealing the win.
Jess earns Paul Gascoigne's respect
Taking on Rangers in the 1995 Coca-Cola Cup semi-final, the Dons raced into a two goal lead thanks to a double from Billy Dodds at Hampden. Despite Brian Laudrup's consolation, Aberdeen went on to face Dundee in the final, lifting their last piece of silverware to date.
But it was Jess' moment of showboating to run down the clock that brought the biggest cheer on the night from the Dons crowd. Out on the touchline, Jess endulged in a bout of keepy-uppy, infuriating Paul Gascoigne at the time.
"We were comfortably winning 2-0 and it wasn't planned, just a spur of the moment thing," Jess told STV Sports Centre. "I ended up doing keepy-ups, which the Aberdeen fans quite enjoyed. Mr Gascoigne wasn't too happy, he man marked me for the last 15 minutes and, of course, thinking back to the Spurs v Nottingham Forest game, I never went near the ball."
The ill-feeling rolled over into the next match between the two teams, in which Jess scored his outstanding goal from outside the box mentioned earlier. After being threatened by Gazza pre-match, the tone changed after the goal.
"'What a goal that was', he said to me," recalls Jess. "'You can play'. To which I replied: 'You're not bad yourself.'"