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James "Jim" Leighton MBE (born 24 July 1958 in Johnstonemarker, Renfrewshire) is a Scottishmarker former football goalkeeper. Among the clubs he played for are Aberdeen (two spells), Manchester United, Arsenal, Dundee and Hibernian.

He joined Aberdeen from non-league Dalry Thistle in 1978. He parted company with Aberdeen in August 2009 , having been their goalkeeping coach after having finished his playing career with them in 2000 after a series of spells at other clubs.

He now lives in the Cults area of Aberdeen.



It was during his initial spell at Aberdeen where Leighton achieved his greatest success, under the management of Alex Ferguson in the early to mid 1980s. Ferguson's Aberdeen side won the Scottish Cup four times, the Scottish League Cup twice, as well as the Cup Winners' Cup in 1983 and three Scottish Premier League titles in 1980, 1984 and 1985.

Leighton's reliability and terrific will to win gained respect from players and pundits everywhere. English keeper Peter Shilton said of him: "Scotland have solved their goalkeeper problem." Even the outspoken Brian Clough said: "Jim Leighton is a rare bird - a Scottish goalkeeper that can be relied on."

Alex Ferguson had departed to Manchester United in 1986, and two years later Ferguson brought him from Pittodriemarker to Old Traffordmarker. His first season at Old Traffordmarker was relatively successful, even though United finished 11th in the league, but his second was marked by a loss of form and confidence. This culminated in him being dropped in favour of Les Sealey for the 1990 FA Cup Final replay against Crystal Palace. Leighton had conceded three goals in the first match as United drew 3–3, and Sealey made a series of spectacular saves as United won the replay 1–0.

Sealey retained the position of first choice goalkeeper for the following season and Leighton faded from view, eventually returning to Scottish football with Dundee in March 1992, after loan spells with Arsenal, Reading and Sheffield United. After the 1990 FA Cup Final, Leighton made just one appearance for United, against Halifax Town in the Football League Cup on 26 September 1990.

A move to Hibernian led to a hugely successful spell where he played over 150 games, missing only one league game in four seasons. The revival in his fortunes included a return to the national team. During his spell with Hibernian he collected 23 of his 91 Scotland caps.

Finally Leighton returned to Aberdeen, retiring from club football after the 2000 Scottish Cup Final defeat against Rangers. This match marked a sad end to a distinguished career, as he was substituted due to injury after just three minutes. With no substitute goalkeeper available, forward Robbie Winters took over in goal and Aberdeen lost 4–0. Leighton's final league appearance that season meant that he set the record for the oldest player in the Scottish Premier League at 41 years and 302 days, a record which was broken by Andy Millen in 2007.


Leighton's international career lasted for 16 years, from 1982 to 1998. He was an uncapped squad member for the 1982 World Cup, before making his debut against East Germany on 13 October 1982. Within two years he was his country's No. 1, and he played in all of his country's matches at the 1986, 1990 and 1998 World Cups, despite stiff competition for the keeper's jersey from Andy Goram during the 1990s. He retired from international football in October 1998, at the age of 40.

Leighton is a member of the Scotland Football Hall of Famemarker, having won his 50th cap for Scotland in 1989. He won 91 international caps for Scotland and is second only to Kenny Dalglish in the appearance records.

Career statistics



  1. Dons Goalkeeping Coach Moves On,, 23 August 2009
  2. Millen confirmed as SPL's oldest, BBC Sport, 14 May 2007

External links

1978-79 Aberdeen Premier Division 11 0
1979-80 1 0
1980-81 35 0
1981-82 36 0
1982-83 35 0
1983-84 36 0
1984-85 34 0
1985-86 26 0
1986-87 42 0
1987-88 44 0

1988-89 Manchester United First Division 38 0
1989-90 35 0
1990-91 0 0
1990-91 Arsenal First Division 0 0
1991-92 Manchester United First Division 0 0
1991-92 Reading Third Division 8 0

1991-92 Dundee Division One 13 0
1992-93 Premier Division 8 0

1992-93 Sheffield United Premier League 0 0

1993-94 Hibernian Premier Division 44 0
1994-95 36 0
1995-96 36 0
1996-97 35 0
1997-98 Aberdeen Premier Division 34 0
1998-99 22 0
1999-2000 26 0

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