Former Rangers, Everton and Scotland manager Walter Smith has passed away at the age of 73.
Considered as one of Scotland’s greatest ever football managers, Smith guided his beloved Rangers to 21 trophies over his two spells at the club, including the latter seven of the Ibrox club’s record equaling nine league titles in a row during the 90s.
Returning to the light blues in 2007 Smith guided Rangers to the 2007/08 UEFA Cup final, a first European final for the club for 36 years.
In-between spells in Glasgow he spent time in charge of English Premier League side Everton and the Scottish national team – where a tenure which resulted in the country’s world rank increasing by 70 meant Smith would be considered one of the best at the job in recent history.
Ally McCoist, who worked extensively by his side, led tributes with an emotional radio segment this morning.
He said: “He was everything to a lot of people, myself included. He was my boss, my coach, my second father, and then he turned into one of my best friends.
“The loss is absolutely incredible however the good thing is he’s not in pain. We spoke to Walter on Saturday, we were going to see him on Sunday but he was too unwell.
“We knew that sadly there was an inevitability about this horrible illness and it’d only be a matter of time. At this moment in time, all I can think about is Ethyl, Neil, Steven and his grandkids.
“All Walter would have wanted was another few years to watch those grandkids play football and spend a lot of time with Jessica and them all, that’s the most painful thing for me right now.
“I can safely say he was probably the best husband, the best father, the best friend – and everything you’d expect in a man.”
Several Rangers supporters have made their way to Ibrox this morning to leave items as tribute to the legendary figure.
Born in Lanark, Smith was a defender for Dundee United, Dumbarton, and US side Dallas Tornado before injury cut his career short at just 29.
It was in management though where the OBE would make his name. Working with Sir Alex Ferguson for the national side in 1986 before moving to Rangers for the first time, originally as assistant to Graeme Souness, in 1986. He would become permanent manager of the club when Souness left for Liverpool in 1991.
A statement released by Rangers this morning labelled Smith: “More than just a football manager… a friend to many, a leader, an ambassador and most of all-a legend.”
The Scottish FA added: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the former Scotland national coach, and one of the most successful managers in Scottish football history, Walter Smith. The thoughts of everyone at the Scottish FA are with his friends and family at this time.”
Scotland captain Andy Robertson added to the messages by writing: “Thoughts, prayers and condolences with Walter Smith’s family and loved ones today. Heartbreaking to lose another great of Scottish football. A man of wisdom, dignity and integrity whose legacy will live on. May he rest in peace.”
Other clubs including Manchester United – where Smith worked as assistant manager in 2004 – Celtic, Dundee United, Dumbarton and Everton have all spoken in tribute of the figure known as a gentleman and a legendary figure in the Scottish game.
Featured Image Credit: Sporting Life