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‘A leader, an ambassador and most of all – a legend’: Rangers announce death of former manager Walter Smith

© SNS GroupRangers boss Walter Smith celebrates with the league trophy in 2011
Rangers boss Walter Smith celebrates with the league trophy in 2011

Former Rangers manager Walter Smith has died, the club has announced.

Smith, who was 73, had two spells at the club and also managed Scotland and Everton in a long and distinguished managerial career.

He won 21 trophies with Rangers, including leading them to seven titles in their 90s nine-in-a-row run.

He won three titles during his return to the club and led his side to the UEFA Cup final in 2008.

Smith was in charge of Scotland between 2004 and 2007, overseeing a famous win over France and winning the Kirin Cup tournament.

Graeme Souness and Walter Smith with the league trophy, 1987 © SNS Group
Graeme Souness and Walter Smith with the league trophy, 1987

In a statement, Rangers chairman Douglas Park said: “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.

“Walter will be sorely missed by all of us at Rangers.

“Winning 10 top-flight titles as manager, five Scottish Cups and six League Cups, as well as leading his club to the UEFA Cup Final in 2008, he will be remembered by the football community across the world. His spells as Scotland manager as well as managing in the English Premier League underlined his credentials as one of the great modern day football managers.

“However, for Rangers supporters, he was much more than just a football manager. Walter was a friend to many, a leader, an ambassador and most of all-a legend.”

2005: Scotland manager Walter Smith (centre) flanked by his assistant Tommy Burns (left), and coach Ally McCoist (SNS Group / Bill Murray)
2005: Scotland manager Walter Smith (centre) flanked by his assistant Tommy Burns (left), and coach Ally McCoist (SNS Group / Bill Murray)

A Scottish FA statement said: “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.”

Tributes to Smith have flooded in on social media from the world of football and beyond.

Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “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.”

Sunday Post columnist Sir Kenny Dalglish said: “Marina and my heartfelt sympathies are with Walter’s wife Ethel & his boys.

“Though we were on opposing sides on the pitch, he was a real footballing friend off of it. He was respected by all and one of the few able to transcend rivalries. Today we have lost a truly great man. RIP”

Sports presenter Dougie Donnelly said: “Just heartbreaking news about Walter Smith. A great football man of course but more importantly a great man and dear friend. Linda and I sending love to Ethel and all the family.”

Former Rangers manager Mark Warburton said: “Devastating news to hear of the sad passing of Walter Smith. A man who was always on hand to help with advice and support. My thoughts and condolences are with his family at this most difficult time.”

Former Celtic player Chris Sutton tweeted: “Really sad news to hear of the passing of Walter Smith. He was a true gentleman. Thoughts and prayers go out to Walter’s family.”