A tribute to Walter Smith
Walter Smith was a gentleman and a friend to so many and will be missed. He was a sporting giant but was respected for so much more.
As a younger player, I was indebted to him for his encouragement and the opportunity he offered me inviting me to Ibrox as an enthusiastic trialist. I witnessed his intuitive man-management and people skills which came so naturally, but were no doubt a significant part of his management success. At the time in 1988/89, this complemented perfectly Graeme Souness’ robust management style which was built on his extensive playing experience. Walter naturally developed player trust and loyalty and in turn, generated respect. I am sure this laid the foundation for numerous lasting friendships.
Personally, Walter’s support and encouragement made me focus on combining my passions for sport and medicine, while gently confirming my playing limitations. True to his word, an offer to join him as Team Doc followed a number of years later and although ultimately this was not possible, due to the demands of surgical training, it was like being picked for the first team and the ultimate compliment which meant a great deal to me.
My thoughts are with his family and those who were close to him. He leaves a legacy that they should be very proud of.
Art is now my hobby and, when I heard of Walter’s failing health, I made a portrait as a modest gesture and to thank him for his kindness. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated before I was able to give it to him in person. To me, it captures the man as I so fondly remember him.
Professor Gordon Mackay
Image top: Peter Devlin/Alamy