Football legends pay tribute to former QPR manager Jim Smith after his death aged 79

10 December 2019, 21:03

Queens Park Rangers manager Jim Smith lines up on the Wembley pitch alongside his team in 1986
Queens Park Rangers manager Jim Smith lines up on the Wembley pitch alongside his team in 1986. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Football legends have paid tribute to former QPR manager Jim Smith after he died aged 79.

His managerial career began in 1969 at Boston United, and he led Queens Park Rangers to the League Cup final in 1986.

Smith, who also had a long playing career, also led Birmingham into the First Division and took Oxford into the top flight.

Harry Redknapp said Smith was “probably his best ever signing” when he brought him to work for the club.

He also served as League Managers Association (LMA) chief executive before returning to management and leading Derby to the Premier League.

"I have so many fond memories of Jim as a football manager but foremost as a friend.

"He was intelligent, passionate, determined, honest and always great fun to be with. Never one to mince his words, he was a leader in the truest sense.

"He was liked and admired by everyone around him, truly an authentic, down-to-earth gentleman."

Harry Redknapp worked with Smith at Portsmouth and described him as “an amazing character.

He told Sky Sports News: "I think everyone who came in contact with him absolutely loved him.

"For me, he was probably my best-ever signing. When I took over as manager I rung up Jim and said 'do you want to come here and work with me?'

"He said: 'Harry I'd love to'. He came back with me and we had a great time. It was an amazing time in both my life and Jim's life. Loved every minute of it.

"He was really old school. He was fun, he was just a character, you just couldn't stop laughing at his stories and the way he was. everybody loved Jim. He was just a loveable character."

Another of Smith's former clubs, Newcastle, wrote on Twitter: "Newcastle United are sad to learn of the passing of Jim Smith, who was the Magpies' manager between 1988 and 1991. He was 79.

"Our thoughts are with Jim's family."

LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson paid tribute to Smith, saying: "Jim and I have known each other since our teenage years, and I have been in his debt since the day he asked me to become player-coach at Boston United where I served my apprenticeship.

While Oxford tweeted: "It is with great sadness that we must announce our former manager and #OUFC great Jim Smith has passed away.

"Our thoughts and love are with Jim's family and friends."

Birmingham described Smith as "a great football man".

"We are deeply saddened by the death of Jim Smith, aged 79," the Blues wrote on Twitter.

"Jim managed Blues between 1978 - 1982, guiding the team to promotion to the old First Division. A great football man and a great character, he will be sorely missed.

"Our condolences to Jim's family and friends. RIP, Jim."

While Blackburn posted: "The club are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former manager Jim Smith. Our thoughts are with Jim's family at this very difficult time."

League One Lincoln, for whom Smith joined as a player in 1968, tweeted: "Rest in peace, Jim Smith.”

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