Date: 28th February 2007 at 12:17am
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How much would you expect to pay for the Dutch 3rd choice striker these days? Gordon Strachan reportedly paid £3.4 million to PSV Eindhoven for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink which was regarded as a great bit of business and a major coup when they landed him. Jan is currently been kept out of the Dutch starting lineup only by Liverpool`s Dirk Kuyt and the Ajax player Klaas Jan Huntelaar but it`s a privilege to for the SPL to have a player of that stature in our league and will surely add to his 11 caps.

Dick Advocaat paid FC Utrecht £4 million for Dutch international Michael Mols to join his Rangers revolution and the player prompted many pub debates over the title of most skilled player in the SPL, Mols or Henrik Larsson? Mols was unfortunate that he often struggled with injury but his career at the top level was effectively ended by a wreckless tackle by Oliver Kahn and he was never again the same but Mols had already won six caps for his country. He was normally included in the Dutch national squads before the injury so it`s fair to surmise that he`s have added to that tally although he was behind the likes of Patrick Kluivert, Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars at that time for a starting slot.

When Alex Smith revealed that he was signing a Dutchman from PSV Eindhoven to partner Charlie Nicholas in the late 1980`s not much was known about Johannes Paulus Gillhaus in Scotland. Foreign players were still an exciting, exotic treat and the Dons were splashing out a few quid on this guy, £650,000 to be exact. What was known was that in 1998, he won the Dutch League, Dutch Cup and when Hans van Breukelen saved Veloso`s penalty kick after the game had remained goalless for 120 minutes, he was a European Cup winner too that season with Guus Hiddink`s side, beating Benfica in that final.

For a player of this caliber to be leaving for such a modest fee something had to have been going on behind the scenes and it was Aberdeen`s fortune that arguably the star of Holland`s 1996 European Championship winning side, Ruud Gullit, had left PSV for £6million to join AC Milan, leaving PSV with a gaping hole up front and serious cash with which to fill it. PSV promptly went out and bought a certain Romario from Vasco de Gama (and he scored 98 goals in 109 games for the Dutch club) which saw Gillhaus being overlooked for a starting position.

So the Dons were obviously getting a man of some pedigree and he was still only 26 but the proof is in the pudding. Anybody not sure whether this guy could cut it in the Scottish Premier League sure was convinced just one half into his debut. Hans had headed in a six yard effort which was fine and impressive. He could score opportunist goals but didn`t we have Scottish guys who could do that? Sure, but not many guys could have replicated or even had the skill or audacity to attempt his second that afternoon. The ball was knocked out to the penalty spot and with Hans with his back to the goal, he whipped up like he`d hit a greased banana skin and looped the ball with his deadly left foot to score a stunning overhead kick.

Nobody was scoring goals like that back then and the whole of the league was raving about this new guy. He further increased his stock against league rivals Rangers in his second game, a midweek match against Rangers when he scored the only goal with a top corner swerve shot stunner. The Dons fans had a bonafide world class star to celebrate.

Hans` performances got us to the Scottish Cup final in 1990 which the Dons won on penalties. Gillhaus` season was not over however, he was off to the World Cup in Italy and he played in the famous match against Germany with the Rikjaard and Voller spitting incident but his team lost the match 2-1 and were knocked out the tournament. Gillhaus was involved in an exceptional national squad and was used as the first choice substitute. He can be proud of the fact that the man keeping him out of the first team was named Striker of the Century. Marco Van Basten was clearly immoveable from the team and his partner, Ruud Gullit was already a genuine world football legend.

The following season, without the creativity of Charlie Nicholas who had returned to Celtic, Aberdeen took Rangers to the last match of the season before surrendering to two Mark Hateley goals and after that deflating season where he was the clubs top scorer, Gillhaus` Aberdeen career turned a bit sour amid rumours of a fallout with manager Willie Miller.

Hans returned home to his homeland with Vitesse Arnhem in 1992 and wound down his top level playing career in the Eredivisie before joining a couple of clubs just to keep himself involved and no doubt some lucrative deals. He moved to the Japanese J-League in `95 to play for Gamba Osaka for a season. He then joined Finnish League side Jaro Pietarsaari in 1998 where he finished his sparkling career.

Hans has since became a top football scout, using his worldwide knowledge to select the best talents and has obviously excelled in this role as when Chelsea named Frank Arnensen as Director of Football a couple of seasons ago, one of his first actions was to name Hans as chief scout for the club.

Hans Gillhaus will be forever be remembered as a Pittodrie legend and we may never see his standard of amazing skills and class in a Dons jersey again. But if Jimmy Calderwood wants Pittodrie filled every week, he should look at the video below and then phone Hans to see if he can find him a player that can do anything like that for Aberdeen.

How fitting that Hans Gillhaus was born on Guy Fawkes Night as he was truly spectacular and lit up Scottish football for the four seasons he was here.

Thanks for the memories Hans, as much of a legend as Larsson, Laudrup or any other foreigner to play in our league.

‘When Aberdeen brought Hans Gillhaus to Aberdeen he made an incredibly fast start and had a big impact and I believe that the Scottish players all moved up to another level as well because they were inspired by Hans.’ Alex McLeish