Ally McCoist has paid an emotional tribute to Walter Smith after the former Scotland and Rangers coach died at the age of 73.
The former forward played for the Rangers during Smith’s first stint as their manager and was equally successful as Smith’s assistant manager from 2007 to 2011 before assuming the top job himself.
And McCoist, speaking on talkSPORT, said Smith’s passing had left him “devastated.”
Ally McCoist (right) has described the death of Walter Smith (left) as ‘devastating’ news
McCoist played with Smith at Rangers and later worked on his coaching staff at Ibrox.
He said: ‘He means everything to a lot of people, including myself. He was my boss, my coach, my second father and then he became one of my best friends.
‘The loss is absolutely incredible to tell you the truth.
‘The good thing is that he has no pain. I went to see Walter recently, I spoke to him on Saturday and I was going to see him on Sunday but he was very ill and there was an inevitability about this horrible disease and we knew it would be a matter of time.
However, it still doesn’t take away the ache and pain.
“I could sit here and tell you about Walter Smith until the cows come home, about what a good trainer, what a good trainer and a football player he was.
The pair celebrate winning the Scottish League Cup in 2008, one of several trophies won.
But what I’m going to say is that he was the best husband, father, friend, everything you would expect from a man.
I can’t tell you how devastated I am.
McCoist was already a prolific forward for the Rangers when Smith stepped in as Graeme Souness’s right-hand man in April 1986.
But McCoist hadn’t won the Scottish First Division, with Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen team on the rise, until Souness and Smith took over.
He would become the team’s main source of goals, as they won a succession of league titles with Smith, who took over as Souness coach in 1991.
McCoist joined the Scotland coaching staff under Smith in 2004 and when his mentor returned to Ibrox in January 2007, he also transferred as his assistant.
During that time, the Rangers overtook Old Firm Celtic rivals as Scotland’s most successful team, winning three league titles, two Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups between 2007 and 2011.
The couple also worked alongside the Scottish national team between 2004 and 2007.
The pair also led Rangers to the UEFA Cup final in 2008, when they lost 2-0 to Zenit St. Petersburg.
McCoist revealed how Smith helped him develop his coaching skills by taking over the preparation and training for certain Scottish Cup games.
When Smith left Ibrox in 2011, McCoist took over, but his time as coach coincided with the Rangers’ entry into management and their relegation to the Third Division.
McCoist took them back to the second level before leaving office in December 2014.
Smith appeared at a charity golf day at Loch Lomond last month (pictured, center with Sir Alex Ferguson), alongside a host of famous faces from the worlds of football, sports and television.
He added: ‘He was the best, by a considerable distance. I was 17 when I first played with him for the Scottish youth team.
I can still remember locking him on a balcony when I was 17 in Monte Carlo and he looked at me like that and I let him in real quick!
‘If I may say he was old school because times have passed, but the only thing Walter was was 100% honest and fair.
‘If I was telling you something, I wasn’t saying it for effect, I was saying it for a reason because it had to be said.
Smith celebrates his sixth Rangers title in 1996 alongside Archie Knox (left) and Paul Gascoigne (right)
‘He was the most genuine of men. He had a wicked sense of humor and it was great to be around.
“ He was loved by all, and across the line, make no mistake about it.
“ We love rivalry in soccer, but my phone has been amazing right now with friends and Celtic fans, he was just a soccer man. Clearly a Rangers man, along with Mr. [Bill] Struth, the best manager in the club’s history.
It will take me a little bit to assimilate.
“A sore loser, but he appreciated that losing was part of the game and he handled it all with such dignity and class.”