The games that defined Smith’s career

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October 27, 2021
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    Rangers celebrate in 1991Walter Smith (centre) won his first trophy within weeks of becoming Rangers manager

    Walter Smith, who has died aged 73, started and ended his managerial career at Rangers with his two spells sandwiching spells in charge of Everton and Scotland.

    Here, BBC Scotland looks back at the defining matches of his career as a manager.

    • Rangers great Smith dies at age 73
    • Reaction as Rangers icon passes away

    Rangers 2-0 Aberdeen, 1991

    Smith had been Graeme Souness' assistant at Ibrox for almost five years when Souness left for Liverpool. Smith stepped up to the manager's role and won his first two games in charge but then lost his third.

    That meant Aberdeen could win the Scottish Premier Division by coming to Ibrox and avoiding defeat. After years of success under Souness, Smith and his depleted Rangers squad were already under huge pressure to deliver, but deliver they did.

    Mark Hateley's double secured a third straight title and Smith's first trophy as a manager. It gave the fans confidence that he was the man to take Rangers forward.

    Marseille 1-1 Rangers, 1993

    A league and Scottish Cup double followed for Smith and Rangers in 1991-92 and as well as dominating domestically in the next campaign, the club also made inroads in Europe.

    Rangers' first Champions League group campaign was an unbeaten one and it was between them and Marseille for a place in the final with only the winners of the two groups progressing.

    The sides had drawn at Ibrox and both beaten Club Bruges and CSKA Moscow. Should there have been a winner in France, they would be in pole position to reach the final.

    Franck Sauzee opened for Marseille but Ian Durrant levelled for Rangers in the second half, meaning the group would be decided in the last round of fixtures.

    Marseille won away to Bruges and Rangers fell short with a draw against CSKA. It was the closest the Ibrox side would come to a European final for 15 years.

    Rangers 2-1 Aberdeen, 1993

    Rangers celebrate in 1993Rangers were on a roll in 1993

    The European adventure came to an end that season for Rangers but they silenced all opposition at home by completing the club's first domestic treble in 15 years.

    Neil Murray and Mark Hateley netted in this Scottish Cup final win against old adversaries Aberdeen.

    This would be the peak of Rangers' dominance under Smith.

    Dundee United 0-1 Rangers, 1997

    Rangers celebrate in 1997The pinnacle of Rangers' success was their ninth successive league title in 1997

    As Rangers continued to win titles, they got closer and closer to matching Celtic's record of nine successive titles.

    Marquee signings Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne helped in no small part, and it was a Laudrup header that sealed Rangers' record equalling title at Tannadice.

    The following season would not bring the 10th title Rangers fans craved but Smith bowed out of Ibrox already a great among great Ibrox managers.

    Liverpool 0-1 Everton, 1999

    Kevin Campbell scores for Everton against Liverpool in 1999Everton claimed a narrow win at Anfield in 1999

    Everton were the second club Smith ever managed and the landscape was rather different to what he had experienced in Scotland.

    The Toffees had survived relegation the previous season only on goal difference and Smith secured lower-half finishes in his three full seasons in charge before being sacked near the end of the 2001-02 campaign.

    One high point of his Goodison Park reign was a 1-0 away win over city rivals Liverpool courtesy of Kevin Campbell – one of Smith's best signings for the club. Everton would have to wait until last season for another win at Anfield.

    Scotland 1-0 France, 2006

    Scotland celebrate in 2006Scotland humbled the French in 2006

    Smith had to wait two years for his next managerial post but in the interim served as Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United.

    When Scotland came calling in the wake of Berti Vogts' reign, Smith was installed to restore the fortunes of his country.

    Unbeknownst to him or anyone else, he would set the template for a similar rebuild at Rangers by tightening up Scotland's defence, flooding the midfield and allowing maverick talents like James McFadden the freedom to express themselves in attack.

    His second last match in charge was a 1-0 win over World Cup finalists France, with Gary Caldwell netting the vital goal.

    Fiorentina 0-0 Rangers (3-4 pens)

    Rangers celebrate in 2008Nacho Novo and Rangers assistant Ally McCoist celebrate the club's famous Florence win

    There was only one job Smith would leave his country for and Rangers were in turmoil after Paul le Guen's ill-fated reign ended after six months and a slew of poor results.

    Smith was brought back to Ibrox to steady the ship and within 18 months had won two trophies and got the side to a Uefa Cup final.

    It was a tense goalless draw in Florence that got Rangers through. After 210 goalless semi-final minutes, penalties ensued and Christian Vieri's miss coupled with Nacho Novo's conversion sent Rangers to their first European final in 36 years.

    It was a Russian side that again came between Smith and European glory as a Zenit St Petersburg side led by the man who replaced him at Ibrox in 1998, Dick Advocaat, oversaw a 2-0 win. But Smith had now given Rangers fans two memorable European runs.

    Kilmarnock 1-5 Rangers, 2011

    Rangers celebrate in 2011Rangers' top-flight title win in 2011 would be their last for 10 years

    With title wins in 2009 and 2010 – Rangers' first consecutive league wins in 10 years – Smith had restored the club's competitiveness but a resurgent Celtic under Neil Lennon threatened to deprive the Scot of a 10th title.

    Rangers had beaten Celtic in the League Cup final, Celtic would go on to win the Scottish Cup and the sides were neck and neck in the league until late in the season.

    A Celtic loss in Inverness opened the door for Rangers to go top and by the last day of the campaign, the Ibrox side could win the title by winning at Kilmarnock.

    They were 3-0 up within 10 minutes and further goals followed in the second half with Kyle Lafferty completing a hat-trick.

    It would prove to be Smith's swansong as a manager and a fitting way to bring down the curtain on his Rangers legacy. It would be another 10 years before Rangers won the Scottish top flight again.


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