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Former Premier League manager dies aged 79

FOOTBALL By Mirror | December 11th 2019 | 3 min read
Legendary Derby manager Jim Smith (Courtesy)

Former Derby and Portsmouth manager Jim Smith has passed away at the age of 79 after battling illness.

Smith also had three spells in charge of Oxford where he is regarded as a club legend.

He guided the club from Division Three to Division One with back-to-back league titles in the 80s before returning in 2006.

The former Us boss also took caretaker charge of the club in December 2008, his last job in management before retiring in 2009.

Smith, who also had tenures in charge of Newcastle, QPR and Birmingham, passed away in hospital on Tuesday afternoon with wife Yvonne by his side.

His stellar career saw him rack up almost 1,500 games in management with nine clubs across the leagues.

At QPR, Smith was famed for introducing a 3-5-2 system, which helped alter the face of English football.

Known affectionately as 'The Bald Eagle', Smith spent six years in charge of Derby after arriving in 1995 and guided the club into the Premier League.

During his time with the Rams, he was assisted by ex-England boss Steve McClaren, and helped unearth the likes of Igor Stimac and Paulo Wanchope.

He returned to Portsmouth as assistant to Harry Redknapp in 2002, and was also his No.2 at Southampton.

Redknapp had previously admitted that bringing Smith in would go down as his best ever signing.

During his time in the I'm A Celebrity jungle, Redknapp recalled some classic tales of his time working with Smith.

"I'm in the office one day and Chris Kamara is outside working for Sky and I'm in my office with Jim Smith.

"I don't know he's out there and he says 'we are now going to go in the inner sanctum - Harry's in there with Jim and they're working out their set plays, the formations ... this is where they're doing the real work. He opens the door and comes in.

"I'm reading the Racing Post and Jim was behind me looking at his bets for the day. It was live on Sky!"

During his playing days, Smith spent over three years with non-league side Boston United and also had spells with Halifax and Lincoln.

Former club QPR paid their respects on social media, tweeting: "All at QPR are deeply saddened to have learned of the passing of former R’s manager Jim Smith. Our thoughts are with Jim’s family at this upsetting time."

LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson added: "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.

“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.

“Above all, he was a great husband and father.”

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