Ibrox sadness

Former Rangers manager Walter Smith dies at 73

Winner: Smith (pic: SNS Group)

Former Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith has died at the age of 73.

Smith, a key figure in Ibrox history, won 10 league titles during two spells as manager, including seven consecutive titles in the club’s run of nine in a row. 

He also led the club to five Scottish Cup victories, six Scottish League Cups and to the final of the UEFA Cup in 2008.

He was manager of Everton from 1998 to 2002 and took charge of Scotland between 2004 and 2007. He was assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 2003/04.

A statement from Rangers read: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our former manager, chairman and club legend, Walter Smith.”

Chairman Douglas Park commented: “On behalf of the Rangers board of directors, staff and players, I convey my deep condolences to the Smith family. Walter leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren, all of whom are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

“It is almost impossible to encapsulate what Walter meant to every one of us at Rangers. He embodied everything that a Ranger should be. His character and leadership was second to none, and will live long in the memory of everyone he worked with during his two terms as first team manager.

“I spoke with Walter as recently as last weekend. Even when he was battling illness, he was still able to provide advice and support.

“For that, I am personally grateful. I know that he continued also to maintain dialogue with senior members of staff, including our manager, Steven Gerrard.”

As a player, defender Smith began his career at Tannadice with Dundee United in 1966 before joining Dumbarton and returned to the Tangerines for a second spell.

After hanging up his boots, he moved into coaching and assisted United boss Jim McLean before he took up a similar role at Ibrox when Graeme Souness brought him to the club in 1986.

He took over the reins at Ibrox in 1991 when Souness left to become manager of Liverpool.

Ibrox legend Ally McCoist paid an emotional tribute to Smith, describing him as his “second father”.

McCoist played under Smith and was his No. 2 when he returned to the club for his second spell from 2007-11.

Speaking on talkSPORT, he said: “He means everything to a lot of folk. He was my boss, my coach, my second father and then turned into one of my best friends. The loss is absolutely incredible.

Walter Smith and Ally McCoist

Pals: Smith and McCoist (pic: SNS Group)

“The good thing is he’s not in pain. I went to see Walter recently, I spoke to him at the weekend and we knew that it would be a matter of time.

“But it still does not take away the pain and the grief.

“I could sit here and tell you about Walter Smith until the cows come home, but what I will say he was the best husband, father friend, everything you want from a man.

“I can’t tell you how devastated I am.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid her own tribute to Smith, taking to Twitter to say: “Very sad to hear of the death of former Rangers and Scotland manager, Walter Smith – he was a true football great. My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues across the world of football.”

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