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"Is it because I'm a Catholic?" | Pat Nevin's brilliant story about Walter Smith and Brian McClair

Former Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith passed away this morning , aged 73.  "A gentlem...

Enda Coll
Enda Coll

19:30 26 Oct 2021



Soccer

"Is it because I'm a Catholic?" | Pat Nevin's brilliant story about Walter Smith and Brian McClair

Enda Coll
Enda Coll

19:30 26 Oct 2021

Former Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith passed away this morning , aged 73. 

"A gentleman", Pat Nevin remembered his friend on Tuesday's Off the Ball.

"I first met him when I was 12-years-old", Nevin said on the Football Show.

"I was on trial with Dundee United and he saw me playing on the pitch. He was player-coach of the first team, and he just walked over to me and grab me. He basically restructured the way I kicked the ball"

"I was like 'you're supposed to be coaching the first team mate?'.. he was only interested in getting the best out of anyone"

That youngster on trial would go on to play professionally and they would meet again, this time in an airport hotel. Nevin now a Scottish international and Smith, the newly-appointed Rangers manager.

"We came home from a Scotland game, it was me and Brian McClair."

"We were in a hotel right beside Glasgow airport. Wattie [Walter Smith] was sitting in the corner trying to look quiet. Nobody really noticed him, he's talking to a journalist right in the corner."

"McClair sees him and shouts over 'HEY! Wattie! Do you want a drink?'."

"Everyone turns around and Walters is gutted now because he's been spotted. 'Ah no you're fine' he says"

"A few minutes later, McClair shouts again..'Wattie, are you sure you don't want a drink? "

"'Nah it's alright, it's alright' and he's still trying to stay incognito."

"Then Brian goes 'Wattie, is it because I'm a catholic?"

"To which, because he knows us so well, and he's just become Rangers manager and we all know the history of that, Wattie just creases himself laughing, he just falls over and comes over and has a drink."

A winner of ten league title with the club during two periods as manager, Smith also oversaw a run to the Uefa Cup final in 2008.

He also guided Rangers to five Scottish Cups and six League Cups.

Smith had four years in charge of Everton in the Premier League between 1998 and 2002.

He also spent a short time with Alex Ferguson as Assistant Manager at Manchester United in 2004, before taking the Scottish National team managerial role.

Smith's playing career was mainly with Dundee United, for whom he made over 100 appearances as a defender.

Rangers chairman Douglas Park said the club is greatly saddened at Smith's passing, which follows an illness.

“On behalf of the Rangers board of directors, staff and players, I convey my deep condolences to the Smith family. Walter leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren, all of whom are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

“It is almost impossible to encapsulate what Walter meant to every one of us at Rangers. He embodied everything that a Ranger should be. His character and leadership was second to none, and will live long in the memory of everyone he worked with during his two terms as first team manager.

“I spoke with Walter as recently as last weekend. Even when he was battling illness, he was still able to provide advice and support. For that, I am personally grateful. I know that he continued also to maintain dialogue with senior members of staff, including our manager, Steven Gerrard.

“Walter will be sorely missed by all of us at Rangers.

“Winning 10 top-flight titles as manager, five Scottish Cups and six League Cups, as well as leading his club to the UEFA Cup Final in 2008, he will be remembered by the football community across the world. His spells as Scotland manager as well as managing in the English Premier League underlined his credentials as one of the great modern-day football managers.

“However, for Rangers supporters, he was much more than just a football manager. Walter was a friend to many, a leader, an ambassador and most of all - a legend.”.

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