Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson delivers tribute to Walter Smith

Sir Alex Ferguson delivers a moving tribute to ‘great friend’ Walter Smith as the Manchester United legend hails his former assistant as a ‘special person with a great moral compass’ following his death at the age of 73

  • Former Rangers and Scotland boss Walter Smith has passed away aged 73 
  • He won 21 trophies at Ibrox and is the club’s second most decorated manager  
  • Smith spent six months as assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United
  • The former Old Trafford boss paid tribute to his friend on Tuesday afternoon  

Sir Alex Ferguson has paid tribute to his great friend and former assistant Walter Smith, who has died at the age of 73. 

The Rangers legend, who won 21 trophies over two stints at Ibrox and became the second most decorated manager in the clubs history, passed away on Tuesday after a long illness.

As well as managing Scotland, Smith worked for six months as an assistant to Ferguson at Manchester United in the second half of the 2003-04 season.

Sir Alex Feguson has paid tribute to his friend and former United assistant Walter Smith

The pair also worked together for Scotland at the 1986 World Cup.  

And on learning of the death of his friend, Ferguson spoke to the club’s official website about his right-hand man.

‘I am absolutely devastated,’ he said. ‘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.’

Smith’s influence at United went well beyond his six months, with Ferguson previously revealing the role the former Everton boss played in persuading Wayne Rooney to join in the summer of 2004. 

Smith was alongside Ferguson when United beat Millwall in the 2004 FA Cup final in Cardiff

And the 79-year-old explained the key role Smith played during his brief spell at Old Trafford. 

‘He was only at United a short time, but he was fantastic,’ added Ferguson.

‘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.’

The pair were pictured together (centre) at a charity golf day in Scotland a matter of weeks ago

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