Walter Smith, who has died at the age of 73, is primarily associated with his two spells as the manager of Rangers Football club which he managed from 1991-1998 and again between 2007 and 2011.
The Former Dundee United player also had a four year stint at Everton while also spending two years with the Scottish National team before returning to the Glaswegian side.
Walter Smith’s football career
Walter Smith was born in Lanark on 24 February 1948 but grew up in the East district of Glasgow, Carmyle and had been a fan of Rangers since his childhood.
In 1966, Dundee United’s manager, Jerry Kerr, signed Smith and the defender appeared for the reserve team in a number of positions, initially as right-half.
Over the next four years, Smith would continue as a reserve and eventually established himself as a first team regular in the 1970/71 season.
Between 1966 and 1975, Smith played 108 games, scoring twice. In September 1975, Smith was sold to Dumbarton for £8,000 but was sold back to Dundee in 1977.
Shortly afterwards, Smith suffered a serious pelvic injury which ended his playing career at the age of 29.
Rangers manager 1991-1998
Smith’s career as a manager has seen 10 Scottish titles, five Scottish Cups, six League Cups and one UEFA Cup final.
The Glaswegian’s first stint with his boyhood team started in 1986 when he accepted the role as assistant manager to Graeme Souness’s player-manager role.
As Souness was a frequent player, Smith was the main figure in the dugout and eventually took on the full role of manager when Souness left for Liverpool in April 1991.
During Smith’s tenure at Rangers, the club won its fourth title in five seasons and would go on to win six more league titles in succession, including the domestic treble in 1992-93.
Smith also took his side to the brink of the Champions League final in 1992-93, going ten games without defeat in the campaign as well as 44 unbeaten matches in all competitions.
It was announced in October 1997, following a string of poor European results that Smith would leave Rangers.
Everton manager 1998-2002
Walter Smith replaced Howard Kendall at Everton in June 1998 and spent money on new players, only to discover that this was money the club did not have. When the Scottish striker, Duncan Ferguson was sold behind Smith’s back, the Rangers manager nearly quit but continued to stay and spent the remainder of his time selling the club’s top players to balance the books.
For three consecutive seasons, Everton finished in the bottom half of the league and the board finally sacked Smith in March 2002.
Scotland national team 2004-2006
Scotland appointed Smith their manager in December 2004 and despite a revival of fortunes under Smith, hopes of reaching the 2006 World Cup were ended by a 1-0 home defeat against Belarus.
Rangers return 2007-2011
Smith returned to Ranges in 2007 and his first match back saw the Glaswegian side beat Dundee United 5-0. Rangers went on to win the Scottish League Cup Final after beating Dundee 3-2 on penalties in the 2007-08 season.
The side reached their first European final for 36 years in the same season as well losing to Zenit St Petersburg in the final.
Rangers’ 2008/09 season ended with a League and Scottish Cup double win. Smith’s success continued in 2010 when Rangers clinched their 53rd league title.
Smith’s final season as a manager in 2010/11 saw Rangers win another domestic double, winning the League Cup and their 54th league championship.
Walter Smith tributes
Rangers released a statement on their website saying, “It’s 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.”
“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.”
Walter Smith’s death was confirmed on Tuesday 26 October 2021 and his family have asked for privacy to be respected at this difficult time.
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