The footballing world has been in mourning this week after one of the game’s greatest managers, Walter Smith, sadly passed away after a long battle with illness.
The Rangers legend is adored north of the border, especially on the blue half of Glasgow. But he is also well-respected at Celtic, something which says everything you need to know about his stature in the game.
His passing this week brought out a number of tributes. His former player and one of his best friends in the game, Ally McCoist, delivered a touching tribute on Talksport on the day of Smith’s passing.
In the Sheffield United squad, one of the players who worked with and knew Smith well is midfielder, John Fleck. And speaking ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Blackpool, the Scotsman said he has a lot to thank Walter Smith for.
“He gave me my first chance at first-team level at Rangers. Gave me my dream basically as a kid, to play at that club,” Fleck said.
“But outside of football, just an incredible human being to be honest, taking aways the football side. I knew he was a great manager from growing up but when you get in and around it, for him to take me into the Rangers team at that time, that’s when you learn the most about him.
“He treats everyone the same. A very humble man and very straight.”
Fleck played under Smith at Ibrox before moving to England and kicking on with his career further. But it’s clear that Fleck remembers his former manager fondly, and rightfully so.
Not many managers leave a lasting impact on the game. Smith, though, is certainly in that category, especially in terms of Scottish football.
Fleck, it seems, like so many, have fond memories of what was clearly a great man. Hopefully, the footballing world pays a notable tribute in this weekend’s fixtures.