Walter Smith: tributes from Sir Alex Ferguson as former Manchester United assistant manager dies aged 73

Walter Smith  Credit: Getty ImagesWalter Smith  Credit: Getty Images
Walter Smith Credit: Getty Images

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The football icon had a stint at Old Trafford under Six Alex Ferguson during a long career in the game and the club has paid tribute today.

Walter Smith has died aged 73.

Smith was best known for his roles at the helm of Rangers, Scotland and Everton, leading Rangers to 10 top-flight titles, five Scottish Cups and six League Cups as well as to the UEFA Cup final in 2008.

However, after he went to Goodison Park for four seasons from 1998-2002, he had a brief stint as assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United for half a season, after Carlos Queiroz left. He quit United in December 2004 to take on the reins as Scotland manager.

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Tributes have been paid today to Smith including by Rangers chairman Douglas Park who said: “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.”

Manchester United tweeted: “Everyone at Manchester United is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Walter Smith.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Walter’s friends and family at this extremely difficult time.”

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Sir Alex Ferguson added: ““I am absolutely devastated. Walter was a special person. He fought his illness with great courage. He was a great friend of mine for years and years, I had him as my assistant at United in 2004 and he was also my assistant when Scotland went to the World Cup in 1986.

“In all that time you were dealing with a man with great moral compass in how 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 was immense.

“He was only at United a short time, but he was fantastic. I lost Carlos Queiroz to Real Madrid and I knew I needed an assistant so I phoned Walter about it and he came for six months and helped us win the FA Cup against Millwall. He had a wonderful connection with people because he was a great listener, that was one of his greatest qualities.

“He listened and showed an interest in people and helped everyone he could. It’s such a loss to the game and to everyone that knew him. I send my sincere condolences to his wife Ethel and his two sons Neil and Steven. I’ll miss him greatly.”

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Brief spell at United recalled

In 2010, Darren Fletcher told the Daily Record about Smith leading training sessions at the club, describing him as a ‘real top manager’.

Fletcher said at the time: “It was just a kicking match at training. The foreign players didn’t like it but all the British lads absolutely loved it!

“But (Walter) made the transition from manager to assistant manager and was fantastic.

“He was the same when he was manager of Scotland. The results speak for themselves but the lads responded and played for him.

“I’ve obviously worked with Sir Alex Ferguson at club level but Walter is a real top manager.”

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