Walter Smith has claimed the Scotland manager’s post is the only job that could have tempted him out of retirement.
Now 70, Smith came close to stepping back into the international arena for a second time last month after Michael O’Neill rejected the opportunity to leave Northern Ireland for Scotland. But Smith became “ticked off” with the time it took to offer him the post after an initial approach from the Scottish Football Association to sound out if he would consider returning to the game.
Smith said yesterday he had been prepared to answer the call but has now shelved any plans to return to management. Asked if he was prepared to come out of retirement for any other job, including the Rangers post should it become available, he said: “No, I am categorically finished, done. That was the only one I would have considered.”
By the time Smith was approached by the SFA and asked if he was prepared to come out of retirement chief executive Stewart Regan had lost his job, having paid the price for the botched O’Neill pursuit.
SFA president Alan McRae had taken over the hunt for Gordon Strachan’s successor. But there were never any face-to-face talks with Smith and he was not offered the position – subsequently filled by Alex McLeish.
“First and foremost I would like to clarify that I really wasn’t asked to take the job,” said Smith. “I was asked if I would come out of retirement and in the end I decided not to bother, as you know. That meant Alex got the job and he maybe should have had the job in the first place anyway because he has the credentials from his run in charge the last time.”
“I was not looking at the time for a job,” Smith added. “I was asked if it was a job I would consider doing. But I never got to the stage where I sat down and talked to them any further on that. After two or three days of media coverage, to be quite honest, I was ticked off.”
Smith, who has just returned from a cruise to the Caribbean, will be back in the dugout this weekend for a Rangers Legends match to raise funds for the Rangers Charity Foundation and the Rangers Youth Development Company.
Smith will take one team of former Ibrox players, including Andy Goram, Lorenzo Amoruso, and Michael Mols, and Ally McCoist another.
It’s a less onerous task than trying to rebuild Scotland after another failed campaign.
Smith has left it to McLeish to decide in what direction Scotland should go following the Gordon Strachan reign in the up-coming friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary.
“The hassle would never bother me,” said Smith, when asked how he felt about the prospect of returning to the managerial front line, albeit in a role that is essentially part-time. “Or I don’t think it would bother me these days, but then I don’t know because it’s been a long time since I’ve had a great deal of hassle, except from the missus!
“But it was something where somebody asks you and if you’ve done the job before there are bits of it you miss. Some of it you don’t miss, but there are bits of it you miss.
‘So when somebody asks you if you would consider coming out of retirement you think about it. You toss it over, I did that for a couple of days and decided not to bother. I’m coming out of retirement for the legends game on Saturday for the first time in a while.”
l Tickets for Saturday’s Rangers Legends match at Ibrox between a Walter Smith XI and an Ally McCoist XI are priced at £12 for adults, £8 for concessions and £6 for juveniles. A family package is also available for 2 adults and 2 children for £32. Supporters can buy tickets online at http://rng.rs/Tickets240318 , by calling 0871 702 1972 or visiting the Rangers Ticket Centre.