Martin Buchan was named in Tommy Docherty's first pool for a meaningless European Championships game at Hampden on October 13, 1971 against Portugal, and it looked
as if he might play from the start following injuries to both Wolves' Frank Munro and Eddie Colquhoun of Sheffield United. The latter passed a late fitness test, however, and Martin had to be content with a run as a substitute for the last nine minutes of a 2-1 win.
Scotland's next outing was an extremely rare visit to Pittodrie for the national side, and it was no surprise that Martin was named to start alongside club team mates Bobby Clark and Steve Murray against visitors Belgium. On a memorable evening for the North East, Buchan proved himself at full international level as the Scots won another meaningless European Championship game 1-0.
Unfortunately, for Dons fans those were the only two caps that Martin won as an Aberdeen player as his exposure at the highest level inevitably led to a transfer south. The path to the top for local boy Martin started back in 1965 when he joined the Dons from Bank o' Dee A on a provisional form. He was called up by manager Eddie Turnbull at the beginning of the 1966-67 season and so impressed the coaching staff at Pittodrie that within weeks of the season opening, the 17 year old was pitched in at the deep end for a league game against Dunfermline Athletic at East End Park.
Young Martin was slotted in at left half with incumbent Jens Petersen moving over to fill the troublesome right half spot and the cool and collected Buchan did his long term prospects no harm with a near faultless display. Unfortunately, from Martin's point of view, Eddie Turnbull was already committed to signing Francis Munro from Dundee United to solve his right half problem and Buchan had to stand down on Munro's arrival and continue his apprenticeship in reserve football.
During the summer of 1967 Martin travelled with the Dons to participate as a "Washington Whip" in the President's Cup, and in the USA it quickly emerged that he simply had to be found a place in the side. His poise, style and general all-round awareness gave him the look of an old head on young shoulders, and he seemed tailor made for the sweeper system that Eddie Turnbull was attempting to install in his Aberdeen side. With Munro, McMillan and Petersen established as the first choice half back line, Turnbull felt obliged to begin the 1967-68 season with Buchan at inside left rather than leave the talented youngster languishing in the reserves any longer.
In Bulgaria on a European trip, young Martin came off the bench to fill the sweeper role against Slavia Sofia, and from that point on he never really looked back. Not long after the Slavia game, Francis Munro (another future Scotland international) was on his way south to Wolves. Jens Petersen was once again moved to right half and Martin Buchan looked set for a long stay as the Dons' regular No.6.
A close season road accident kept Martin out of the side until mid-November 1969 but a season that had begun badly picked up in dramatic fashion when in February 1970, a month short of his 21st birthday, Buchan was appointed club captain. Almost incredibly, two months later Martin was climbing the steps at Hampden as the youngest ever skipper to lift the Scottish Cup.
The Dons success was largely down to solid defending by a good tight unit superbly marshalled by Buchan, and that extra bit of flair supplied by the front line. The following season the Dons came within a whisker of ending Celtic's stranglehold on the Scottish League title, and the importance of Martin Buchan to that effort was emphasised by the fact that the defence conceded a record low of just 17 goals. At the end of the 1970-71 campaign, Martin was named as Scottish Player of the Year and then to add to his string of under 23 caps he was finally given his first full cap by Tommy Docherty in that game against Portugal in October1971.
Martin's growing reputation made him an obvious target for the then fashionable lure of English football, and sadly for Dons fans he joined Manchester United for £125,000 in February 1972. Buchan joined the Old Trafford side at perhaps the most difficult time in their history, but he gave United full value for his large fee, and his efforts were rewarded with an FA Cup winners medal in 1977. On the international front, Martin went on to win a further 32 caps at Old Trafford, but a disagreement with Scotland manager Willie Ormond limited his appearances in the mid-1970s. Buchan's United career ended in 1983 not long after a testimonial (for which the Dons provided the opposition) and he then joined Oldham.