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Rangers legend Henderson in Smith appeal

Former Rangers hero Willie Henderson has hailed Walter Smith as a Light Blues great and urged any potential new owner of the club to retain his services.

While Rangers remain up for sale, with confirmed interest from London-based property tycoon Andrew Ellis, Smith and assistants Ally McCoist and Kenny McDowall are working without contracts.

Smith, who guided the club to nine titles in a row during his first spell at Rangers in the 1980s and 90s, has ignored the uncertainty around his future to secure a 13-point lead over Celtic at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

On top of a probable second successive championship, Rangers face Raith Rovers in the semi-final of the Active Nation Scottish Cup if they beat Dundee United in their replay and have the chance to capture the first leg of a possible domestic Treble in Sunday's Co-operative Insurance Cup final against St Mirren at Hampden.

Henderson put most of this season's success down to Smith.

“Walter Smith is becoming one of the greatest Rangers managers of all time,” he said. “It is nice that Celtic are going to put a statue outside Parkhead for Jock Stein. He was tremendous.”

“Walter Smith has achieved some fantastic things through the years and I think further down the road you would have to be looking at the same situation for what he has done. Things have been very difficult for Rangers this season and Walter Smith has done a fantastic job. There is great camaraderie amongst the squad and it is working very well for them.

“I have said 'I don't fancy this player or that player' but you sit back and see what Walter has achieved and won with that squad of players. He took some of them to the final of the UEFA Cup in 2008 which was fantastic as well.

“So I think it is important to hold on to Walter if a new buyer comes in. One of the first things I would do if I was a new owner would be to sit down with Walter and the backroom staff and try to get them fixed up on a longer contract. You don't get managers like Walter Smith very often.

Henderson, who played in the Rangers team which won the Treble in 1964, warned the Ibrox side against complacency on Sunday against a team who are second bottom of the SPL and who have not won in five meetings between the teams this season.

He added: “One of the main things that has to happen on Sunday, though, is that the Rangers players have to be professional in their attitude. They have to treat this as as big a game as playing against Celtic.”

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