Ferguson became manager in 1978, following the departure of McNeill to Celtic, and set about building a team which would win more in the next eight years than in the entire history of the club to that date.
Players such as Jim Leighton, Willie Miller, Alex McLeish and Gordon Strachan developed under Ferguson's guidance to be the backbone of a team with a winning mentality. Aberdeen's second League title was won in 1979–80, and this initial success was built on, with Scottish Cup wins in three successive seasons from 1982–1984, two more league titles in 1983–84 and 1984–85, alongside becoming only the third Scottish side to win a European trophy, with the European Cup Winners' Cup victory over Real Madrid on 11 May 1983. The club even released a song, European Song to coincide with the appearance in the Final. This was followed up with the capture of the European Super Cup in December of that year, when SV Hamburg were beaten over two legs. Aberdeen remain the only Scottish club to have won two European trophies. The following season, Aberdeen were beaten semi-finalists in the Cup Winners' Cup, denied the opportunity to defend their trophy by FC Porto.
The success of the Ferguson era may be underlined by the fact that the 1985–86 season was considered by many supporters to be a failure, with only the Scottish Cup and the League Cup won.