Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Smith’s thanks to Murray

Rangers manager Walter Smith

Walter Smith has expressed his gratitude to Sir David Murray for setting him on the path to football management by giving him his big break at Rangers.

Smith has enjoyed two successful spells at the club during the reign of the Ibrox supremo, who resigned as board director and chairman earlier this week.

Rangers amassed an impressive 32 trophies during the Murray era, with highlights including a record-equalling nine successive league titles and reaching the UEFA Cup final in 2008.

And, as Smith paid his own personal tribute, he claimed Murray should be remembered for the success he has brought to the Govan outfit over the last two decades.

He said: “I've always been grateful to him, he gave me my opportunity as a manager. He could well have taken someone who had a track record as a manager and he took me.

“It was my first full managerial job so I'll always be grateful to him for offering me that opportunity to go into management.

“When you've been chairman of a club for 20 years, you always look at what has been achieved on the pitch, in football that's the most important area of a club. Rangers have been extremely successful under his ownership over those 20 years. It's possibly not been enough for a lot of people but I don't think anybody will ever achieve that at Rangers.

“Over the last 20 years, he has been the person who has led from the front and Rangers have had an extremely successful period while he has been the chairman. That's what he should be remembered for.”

Smith does not believe Murray's time at Rangers should be defined by one act, but concedes that the controversial capture of Maurice Johnston — a former Celtic player and the club's first high-profile Roman Catholic signing — was a landmark moment for Rangers and Scottish football.

He said: “When you are 20 years at a club and you have had the success that Rangers have had, I don't think there is one single thing that you can pick out. The success aspect I think, possibly, gets taken for granted a little bit. But it was a significant step for Rangers, it was an indication that they were no longer going to continue with a policy that they felt was outdated and they have carried on like that.

“A lot of people have said it would see the end of sectarianism in Scotland but I'm afraid it wasn't quite as simple as that and there are aspects of it still there. But it was a big step for any owner to take.”

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