Ally McCoist hailed Walter Smith as a “second father” while Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he was “absolutely devastated” following the former Rangers manager’s death aged 73.
Former striker McCoist, who was a key player during Smith’s hugely successful first reign at the Ibrox helm and was assistant manager for his second stint, spoke of his devastation soon after the Scottish club announced the news on Tuesday.
He told talkSPORT: “He means everything to a lot of folk. He was my boss, my coach, my second father and then turned into one of my best friends.
“The loss is absolutely incredible.
“The good thing is he’s not in pain. I went to see Walter recently, I spoke to him at the weekend and we knew that it would be a matter of time. But it still does not take away the pain and the grief.
“I could sit here and tell you about Walter Smith until the cows come home, but what I will say he was the best husband, father, friend, everything you want from a man.
“I can’t tell you how devastated I am.”
Former Manchester United manager Ferguson mourned the loss of his ex-assistant.
“I am absolutely devastated. Walter was a special person. He fought his illness with great courage. He was a great friend of mine for years and years,” Ferguson told United’s website.
Smith served as Ferguson’s assistant on two occasions, the first in 1986 when Scotland went to the World Cup, and the second time at Old Trafford in 2004.
“In all that time you were dealing with a man with great moral compass in how he lived his life and the friendship he offered so many people,” the former United boss said.
“His contribution to football with Dundee United, Rangers, Scotland, Everton and Man United was immense.
“He was only at United a short time. But he was fantastic.
“He listened and showed an interest in people and helped everyone he could. It’s such a loss to the game and to everyone that knew him.
“I send my sincere condolences to his wife Ethel and his two sons Neil and Steven. I’ll miss him greatly.”
Thoughts, prayers and condolences with Walter Smith’s family and loved ones today. Heartbreaking to lose another great of Scottish football. A man of wisdom, dignity and integrity whose legacy will live on. May he rest in peace 💙 pic.twitter.com/41alZ1TYsw— Andy Robertson (@andrewrobertso5) October 26, 2021
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson expressed his heartbreak while Reds and Celtic great Sir Kenny Dalglish paid tribute to “a truly great man”.
Robertson tweeted: “Thoughts, prayers and condolences with Walter Smith’s family and loved ones today.
“Heartbreaking to lose another great of Scottish football.
“A man of wisdom, dignity and integrity who’s legacy will live on. May he rest in peace.”
Marina and my heartfelt sympathies are with Walter’s wife Ethel & his boys. Though we were on opposing sides on the pitch, he was a real footballing friend off of it. He was respected by all and one of the few able to transcend rivalries. Today we have lost a truly great man. RIP— Sir Kenny Dalglish (😷 & 💉) (@kennethdalglish) October 26, 2021
Dalglish posted: “Marina and my heartfelt sympathies are with Walter’s wife Ethel & his boys.
“Though we were on opposing sides on the pitch, he was a real footballing friend off of it.
“He was respected by all and one of the few able to transcend rivalries. Today we have lost a truly great man. RIP”
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