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Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute to Walter Smith

Sir Alex Ferguson pays a moving tribute to Walter Smith when Manchester United legend calls the former assistant and ‘great friend’ a ‘special person … with a great moral compass’ following the death of the former Rangers boss at 73

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


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

The Rangers legend, who won 21 trophies in two seasons at Ibrox and became the second most decorated coach in club history, passed away Tuesday after a long illness.

In addition to managing Scotland, Smith worked for six months as Ferguson’s assistant 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

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 upon learning of his friend’s death, Ferguson spoke to the club official website on his right hand.

“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 a great moral compass in how he lived his life and the friendship he offered to 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, and Ferguson previously revealed 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.

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

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 stint at Old Trafford.

“He was only short at United, but it was fantastic,” added Ferguson.

“ I lost Carlos Queiroz at Real Madrid and I knew I needed an assistant so I called Walter 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 interest in people and helped everyone he could. It is a great loss for the game and for everyone who knew him.

‘I send my sincere condolences to his wife Ethel and their two children Neil and Steven. I will miss him very much.

The pair were photographed together (center) on a charity golf day in Scotland a few weeks ago.

The pair were photographed together (center) on a charity golf day in Scotland a few weeks ago.

The pair were photographed together (center) on a charity golf day in Scotland a few weeks ago.

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