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Benitez Salutes 'Legendary' Smith

Rafa Benitez has paid tribute to “legendary and highly-respected” Walter Smith after the former Everton manager died on Tuesday.

Smith was appointed boss at Goodison Park in summer 1998 and in nearly four seasons with the Club took charge of 168 matches.

The Scot had two enormously successful periods with Rangers either side of his time on Merseyside.

Current Everton manager Benitez insists Smith will be remembered as one of the sport’s great managers after amassing a personal 21-trophy haul north of the border.

But more important than any achievements in football, says Benitez, were Smith’s qualities as a human being – which have been reflected in countless tributes from former players and colleagues.

“Walter was highly-respected by everybody at Everton and it was the same everywhere in football,” Benitez told evertonfc.com.

“It is a really sad day for our club and our sport. We have lost one of the really good guys in our profession.

“I met Walter at Newcastle and we spent some time talking about football. I enjoyed spending that time in his company and he made a very good impression on me as a manager and a person.

“You read what Walter’s former players have said about him and the influence he had on their careers and lives is clear.

“He was a great professional and will be remembered as a legendary figure in football.”

Rafa Benitez
It is a really sad day for our club and our sport. We have lost one of the really good guys in our profession.


Smith won seven Scottish league titles and guided Rangers to within a whisker of the 1993 European Cup final in seven years in charge at Ibrox after taking over in March 1991.

His Everton teams showed flashes of brilliance, particularly following the transformative capture of Kevin Campbell towards the end of Smith’s first season as boss.

Highlights of his Goodison tenure included a Merseyside derby victory at Anfield in September 1999 and the 5-0 Goodison Park victory over Sunderland that launched Bill Kenwright’s reign as Chairman on Boxing Day of the same year.

Smith worked as assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United after leaving Everton in March 2002.

He subsequently spent more than two years as Scotland national team manager before returning to Rangers for four-and-a-half years that yielded another three domestic titles and a run to the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

“Walter’s achievements as a manager were incredible,” said Benitez.

"Our Chairman spoke about how when Walter was here he kept fighting and showing his loyalty and talent.

“These are the things I have always heard about Walter. That he was fantastic as a football manager and even better as a person.”

Rafa Benitez
Our Chairman spoke about how when Walter was here he kept fighting and showing his loyalty and talent.

 

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