26 October 2021

From Scottish titles to win over France – Walter Smith’s greatest games

26 October 2021

Scottish football is in mourning following the death of Walter Smith aged 73, on Tuesday.

He won 21 major honours across two spells in charge of Rangers and also had stints in charge of Everton and Scotland.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at 10 classic games where Smith’s managerial expertise came shining through.

Rangers 2 Aberdeen 0Scottish Premier Division, April 30, 1991

Smith had only been promoted to the top job a month earlier after Graeme Souness’ departure to Liverpool but he got his managerial reign off to a triumphant start as his patched-up side battled past the Dons to claim the club’s third straight title thanks to Mark Hateley’s double.

Leeds 1 Rangers 2Champions League, November 4, 1992

Mark Hateley, top, scored in a Champions League upset (Malcolm Croft/PA) (PA Archive)

Rangers were written off as no-hopers by the dismissive English press but it was the Scottish champions who emerged victorious from this battle of Britain, with goals from Hateley and Ally McCoist at Elland Road repeating their Ibrox win a fortnight earlier. Smith’s men would come within 90 minutes of reaching the final after going unbeaten through the group stage.

Rangers 5 Hearts 1Scottish Cup final, May 18, 1996

A display of sheer dominance by Smith’s star-studded line-up which boasted both Brian Laudrup and Paul Gascoigne. Gordon Durie hit a Hampden hat-trick but it was Gers’ dazzling Dane who stole the show in what will forever be remembered as the Laudrup final as the playmaker grabbed a brace and three assists.

Celtic 0 Rangers 1Scottish Premier Division, March 16, 1997

Once again Smith was forced to make do and mend as his injury-ravaged side made their way to Celtic Park. Goalkeeper Andy Dibble was drafted in at short notice and Hateley brought back from QPR having departed the previous summer. The striker did enough to rough up the Hoops defence before being sent off as Laudrup’s winner put Gers on the verge of a ninth title in a row.

Liverpool 0 Everton 1Premier League, September 27, 1999

This was the Toffees’ last Anfield win before Carlo Ancelotti’s team ended that long drought across Stanley Park last season. Smith’s four years at Goodison were blighted by financial troubles but this was a rare highlight for the blue half of Merseyside. The derby thriller kicked off with Kevin Campbell’s early winner and saw a certain Steven Gerrard sent off for a wild lunge on Campbell.

Scotland 1 France 0Euro 2008 qualifier, October 7, 2006

Gary Caldwell celebrates his winner against France (Chris Clark/PA) (PA Archive)

Les Bleus had reached the World Cup final just three months earlier and arrived at Hampden with line-up packed with megastars, including Franck Ribery, Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele, David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry. But Gary Caldwell’s second-half strike sent the rain-soaked Tartan Army into raptures as Smith’s men stood firm in the face of a later cavalry charge.

Fiorentina 0 Rangers 0 (2-4 on penalties)UEFA Cup semi-final, May 1, 2008

Smith’s first spell in charge of Rangers was built on assembling the best team money could buy – but his second was about organising a series of bargain buys into a rigid unit who could grind their way to victory. That is exactly how this clash in Florence played out as defenders Carlos Cuellar and David Weir stood firm in the face of a Tuscan bombardment before Nacho Novo’s winning spot-kick sent Gers and 200,000 jubilant supporters on their way to Manchester.

Celtic 2 Rangers 4Scottish Premier League, August 31, 2008

Kenny Miller’s Rangers return did not exactly go down well universally with the Ibrox faithful following his brief defection to Celtic but Smith had full belief the Scotland hitman would win over his doubters and so it proved as Miller grabbed a double on his Parkhead return, with Pedro Mendes also announcing himself to the Light Blues support with a sensational Old Firm pile-driver.

St Mirren 0 Rangers 1Scottish League Cup final, March 21, 2010

Smith, centre left, and Ally McCoist, centre right, lift the Scottish League Cup (Rob Casey/Pool/PA) (PA Archive)

As part of Rangers’ succession planning, Smith took a back seat when it came to domestic cup competitions as assistant boss McCoist was given a shot at leading from the front. But when Gers found themselves down to nine men after Kevin Thomson and Danny Wilson were both sent off, Smith darted to the touchline to take command, re-organising his team before Miller’s smash-and-grab winner stole the cup.

Kilmarnock 1 Rangers 5Scottish Premier League, May 15, 2011

Smith was looking to bow out on a high before retiring from management as he side went in search of their third straight title at Rugby Park. It was all set for a nervy final day shoot-out with the Ibrox men just a point ahead of Celtic but Smith need not have worried as three goals inside the first sensational seven minutes ensured he got the perfect send-off.

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