Walter Smith: Sir Alex Ferguson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard pay tribute


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Sir Alex Ferguson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard led the tributes to former Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith, who died aged 73.

Smith briefly worked under Ferguson with Scotland and Manchester United and dismissed the possibility of doing so on a more lasting basis when Aberdeen manager Ferguson considered an Arsenal offer in 1986.

The two friends both achieved huge success on their own – Smith eventually won 10 titles with Rangers – before teaming up again at Old Trafford in 2004, where they won the FA Cup together.

Former Manchester United boss Ferguson said he was “absolutely devastated” by the loss of his “great friend” and added on United’s website: “All this time you were dealing with a man with a great moral compass in the way he lived his life and the friendship he offered so many people.

“His contribution to football with Dundee United, Rangers, Scotland, Everton and Man United has been immense.

“He was only at United for a short time. But he was fantastic. He listened and showed interest in people and helped everyone he could. “

Walter Smith was Graeme Souness’ assistant with the Rangers in the 1980s

Meanwhile, Souness and former Rangers chairman Sir David Murray issued a joint statement saying Scottish football has lost ‘one of its best’.

He added: “Even in the proud history of Glasgow Rangers, Walter Smith stands out as a colossus. He will never be forgotten.

“Walter has had a profound effect on both of our lives – certainly as a wise and trusted manager and leader and advisor, but always as a close and valued friend. It took time for so many people.

“We had both spoken to him privately over the past few weeks. The subject rarely strayed from football. “

Although Smith retired in 2011, his influence has continued – particularly at Ibrox and with current Rangers boss Steven Gerrard, who swallowed back tears as he said his mentor had “made me a better person.” “.

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Rangers manager Steven Gerrard paid moving tribute to club legend Walter Smith

Talk to Ranger TV, Gerrard said: “Walter was an incredible leader, a very successful manager here at Rangers and he embodied everything this club stands for. His DNA is all over the club and that is obviously very sad news.

“He’s been right behind me since day one. We have had many lunches and dinners, coffees and talks, and private time with him in my office. He’s obviously going to be a great loss and a miss for a lot of people.

“He is decorated throughout the club and he will be forever because he has given so many years to this football club.

“He loved the club, he was honest, he was genuine. And he made me a better person. I only have good words to say. “

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LMA general manager Richard Bevan said Walter Smith had always had a special attitude towards him and described him as one of the greatest Scottish coaches of all time.

Smith was also proactive with the League Managers Association until his death with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, saying he was “very lucky” to get to know him.

“Through his role as a technical consultant for LMA, I have had the opportunity over the past five years to get to know him and see how humble, insightful and very genuine he is,” said Guardiola.

“I’ve always enjoyed spending time with Walter (Smith) and we had planned to have dinner together again. “

West Ham boss David Moyes, who took over from Smith at Everton, added: “I admired Walter with so much respect. He was such a great Scottish manager but for me he was an even better man.

“He was honorable, he showed great dignity and always showed such class. He was a true friend and mentor, and a man I feel privileged to have known. “

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Walter Smith has a “special resonance” with Rangers fans as “one of the iconic figures” of the club, reports Mark Benstead, following the deaths of former Rangers manager, Everton and the club. ‘Scotland at the age of 73.

Ally McCoist, who played under Smith for 12 years then was his assistant with Scotland and Rangers, said talkSPORT: “He was everything for a lot of people, including me.

“He was my boss, my coach, he was my second dad and then he became one of my best friends, to be honest. The loss is absolutely incredible. “

Another former Rangers icon, Paul Gascoigne, said Sky Sports News: “I am extremely upset to hear the news of Walter’s passing.

“I really admired Walter, he put a smile on my face with football and he supported me like a father figure in Rangers. I will miss our frequent telephone conversations. I think of Walter’s family at this sad time. “

Smith’s loss was also felt at Everton, where he served as manager for almost four years starting in 1998.

Everton President Bill Kenwright said on his club’s website: “He was one of the best people I have had the chance to meet in my football life.

“A man of loyalty, integrity and great talent. Loud when needed but with a playful sense of humor that could soothe even the most tense situations.

“Walter and I shared a lot together during the years of the takeover, but among many examples of true friendship, one will always stand out.

“We had just… in tears… said goodbye to Goodison, when he slapped his hands together and said ‘OK Bill, who are we going to have to run our big club?’

“Even in a moment of real sadness, he refused to put himself first… one of the real attributes of a great leader. And that’s exactly what Walter Smith was. A great leader. And a great man. “

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