Walter Smith tribute: Emotional Rangers boss Steven Gerrard speaks on club legend after cancelled press conference

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has paid an emotional tribute to his mentor and predecessor Walter Smith.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has paid tribute to Walter Smith after the legendary former Ibrox boss passed away at the age of 73. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The most successful manager in the Ibrox club’s post-war history, winning 21 major trophies over two spells in charge and leading them to the Uefa Cup Final in 2008, Smith has died at the age of 73.

Gerrard formed a close relationship with Smith after taking charge of Rangers in 2018, valuing his regular counsel throughout a period which saw him return the club to the summit of Scottish football.

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As a mark of respect to Smith, the Rangers staff and players at the club’s training ground held a minute’s silence on Tuesday morning before continuing their preparations for Wednesday night’s league game against Aberdeen at Ibrox.

Gerrard’s planned pre-match media commitments were cancelled but the former Liverpool and England captain gave his reaction to Smith’s passing in a brief interview to Rangers TV.

“It’s still very raw but it is a sad day for everyone connected to the club,” said Gerrard, the depth of his sorrow clear as he struggled to compose himself.

“Walter was an incredible leader, a very successful manager at Rangers. I think he epitomised everything this club stands for. His DNA is all over the club. It’s obviously very sad news.

“He’s been right behind me since day one. I had many lunches, dinners, coffees, chats and private time with him in my office. So he is obviously going to be a very big loss and a miss to a lot of people.

“He is decorated all over the club and he will be forever because he gave many, many years to this football club. He loved the club.

“He was honest, he was genuine and he’s made me a better person. I’ve got nothing but good words to say.

“I’ve been the lucky one to know him and spend time with him. So have an awful lot of other people who will have their own special memories of a great man.”

Rangers will hold a minute’s silence before kick-off at Ibrox on Wednesday in what is certain to be an emotionally-charged occasion.

Gerrard has urged his players to pay suitable homage to Smith by delivering a performance and result in keeping with the success he so consistently brought to Rangers.

“It’s going to be emotional in the coming days and weeks,” said Gerrard. “But the best tribute I and we as a team can do is be united, get the fans behind us and try and win the game tomorrow. That will be the best tribute we can give him and his family.

“When you play Aberdeen it’s tough anway, because they’re a good team. But obviously the news today is going to make it even more tough, of course it is.

“But we need to be united - the fans, the players, everyone at the club and do our best in the circumstances. As I say, the biggest tribute we can do is remember him and honour him by trying to put in a performance to get three points for him and his family.”

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