Rangers have announced the death of legendary manager Walter Smith at the age of 73.
Smith won 21 trophies in two spells as Rangers boss and also managed Everton and Scotland.
He will be best remembered for his first stint in charge at Ibrox where he won seven successive league titles, with Rangers equalling Celtic’s record of nine successive championships in 1996-97 but a poor European start to the following campaign saw Smith confirm he would leave the club at the end of the campaign to join Everton.
There were four campaigns with the Toffees and a brief stint as assistant manager to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, before taking over the national team and moving them 70 places up the world rankings.
He returned to the blue half of Glasgow in 2007, claiming three more league titles and guiding the Gers to a Uefa Cup final in 2008.
He retired in 2011 as the second-most successful manager in the club, behind Bill Struth.
Alex Ferguson hailed Smith’s “immense” contribution to football following his two-time former assistant’s death.
Smith briefly worked under Ferguson with Scotland and Manchester United and rejected the chance to do so on a more lasting basis when the then Aberdeen manager considered an offer from Arsenal in 1986.
Smith, then Dundee United assistant to Jim McLean, had already accepted an invitation to work with Graeme Souness at Rangers.
The two friends both achieved huge success on their own – Smith ultimately won 10 titles with Rangers – before teaming up again at Old Trafford in 2004, where they won the FA Cup together.
Ferguson declared himself “absolutely devastated” at the loss of his “great friend” and added on United’s website: “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. He listened and showed an interest in people and helped everyone he could.”
Former Celtic player and manager Kenny Dalglish said Smith was “one of the few able to transcend rivalries” and added: “Though we were on opposing sides on the pitch, he was a real footballing friend off of it.”
Ally McCoist, who played under Smith for 12 years and then served as his assistant with Scotland and Rangers, told talkSPORT: “He was everything to a lot of folk, myself included. He was my boss, my coach, he was my second father and then he turned into one of my best friends, to be honest. The loss is absolutely incredible.”
Souness and former Rangers chairman David Murray declared that Scottish football had lost “one of its finest”.
In a joint statement, they added: “Even in the proud history of Glasgow Rangers, Walter Smith stands out as a colossus. He will never be forgotten.
“Walter had a profound effect on both of our lives – certainly as a manager and a leader and a wise and trusted adviser but always as a close and treasured friend. He made time for so many people.
“Both of us had spoken to him privately over the past few weeks. The topic rarely strayed from football.”
Smith’s loss was also felt at Everton, where he served as manager for nearly four years from 1998.
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright told his club’s website: “He was one of the very best people I was lucky enough to meet in my lifetime in football.
“A man of loyalty, integrity and great talent. Strong when he needed to be but with a mischievous sense of humour that could ease even the most tense situations.
“Walter and I shared a lot together during the takeover years but among many, many examples of real friendship, one will always stick out.
“We had just… tearfully… agreed his farewell to Goodison, when he slapped his hands together and said ‘OK Bill, who are we going to get to manage this great club of ours?’
“Even in a moment of real sadness, he refused to put himself first…one of the true attributes of a great leader. And that’s exactly what Walter Smith was. A great leader. And a great man.”
Although Smith retired in 2011, his influence continued.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola spoke about being “very fortunate” to get to know Smith through the latter’s role with the League Managers Association.
“Through his role as technical consultant for the LMA, I have had the opportunity over the past five years to get to know him and see what a humble, insightful and very genuine man he was,” Guardiola said.
“I always enjoyed spending time with Walter and we had been planning to have dinner together again.”
West Ham boss David Moyes, who succeeded Smith at Everton, added: “I looked up to Walter with so much respect. He was such a great Scottish manager but, to me, he was an even better man.
“He was honourable, he showed great dignity, and always demonstrated such class. He was a true friend and mentor, and a man I feel privileged to have known.”
Current bosses in Scottish football outlined how highly respected Smith was.
St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin said: “I had the pleasure of being in his company on a couple of occasions and I knew I was in the presence of real greatness.
“He came on a coaching license that I was on as well and he had the whole room in the palm of his hand with stories he was telling and the education he was giving us.”
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson was given his only Scotland appearance by Smith and also enjoyed learning from him.
He said: “Walter’s a giant of the Scottish game and somebody I have massive respect for. He gave me my Scotland debut and I’ll be forever indebted to him for that.
“To play under him was brilliant. He was straight down the middle. He could be quiet or loud. He had all the things you need to be a top manager. He had an aura about him that made you want to do well for him.
“He always had time for other coaches and understood the ins and outs and the pressures that come with it. He was always brilliant with me.”
“It is almost impossible to encapsulate what Walter meant to every one of us at Rangers,” chairman Douglas Park said.
“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.”
Scotland manager Steve Clarke was “shocked and saddened” by the news.
“He was a formidable manager and a formidable man,” Clarke added on the SFA website. “He always had a strength and presence that marked him out and no doubt contributed to the great success he had throughout his career.
“I had my first experience at the World Youth Championship when he was Andy Roxburgh’s assistant in 1983 and, even back then, he was impressive in his coaching and how he carried himself.
“He was always very supportive and terrific company when our paths crossed over the years. His loss will be felt profoundly across Scottish football.”
Former Scotland and Celtic captain Scott Brown also paid tribute to Smith.
“It’s so sad,” the Aberdeen midfielder said. “Walter was a fantastic man and he was the one who gave me my first Scotland cap many years ago.
“I worked with him very closely with Scotland and I’ve got huge respect for him, especially what he did with Tommy Burns as well, carrying his coffin.
“He tried to bridge the gap between the two clubs which was fantastic at the time.
“Every time I met Walter he had so much time for every single person.”