As Rangers prepare to face Aberdeen at Ibrox – a normally feisty date in the Scottish Premiership calendar – there’s a subdued atmosphere in grey Glasgow as the match takes on a new complexion.

Walter Smith’s passing is something which some had feared was coming but everybody genuinely daunted.

The two-time former Rangers manager’s name stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the biggest in Ibrox history and not only was Sir Walter a legendary former boss, but as we’ve seen in the tributes since his passing, he was a remarkable Rangers ambassador.

A man who transcends traditional footballing rivalry and who is respected on both sides of the Old Firm, this is a Scottish footballing giant and one of the last of his kind.

Ferguson, Shankly, Busby, McLean, Stein. Smith’s name can be heard in the same breath as them all.

A pan-generational figure who has a tangible on-pitch connection with Rangers fans of different eras, this is part of the reason why his passing has been felt so hard; Smith’s influence at Ibrox is unique.

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I grew up hearing whispers of the legendary 9IAR team, figures such as Super Ally, Gazza and Richard Gough the image in my mind of what Rangers are, what Rangers should be. Smith helped build this.

 

I might have been too young to fully enjoy those days but their legend is something which has stuck with me and forms so much of my own understanding of what Rangers Football Club means.

WALTER SMITH

Walter Smith will go down as one of the all-time Rangers greats. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK/ALLSPORT

Even in the era of Eck McLeish, my first true awakening as a bluenose, that resonating feeling of Smith remained and his presence was almost omnipotent.

When he returned – to a club in turmoil after the failed Paul le Guen experiment – there was a poise, confidence and calm about Smith that made us reconnect with that image of the club, something that in the modern era no-one better than Smith has helped to cultivate.

Despite the challenges he faced upon returning, those same messages about what it meant to play for Rangers and that wiliness to win at all costs was always clear.

Glasgow Rangers - Training & Press Conference

The Rangers Gaffer would surely love to be taking the side against Aberdeen. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

We had no doubts in him. Smith got to a UEFA Cup Final with a team on a shoestring budget. We won three titles in a row. It was a remarkable time against the odds. It felt destined to be.

There is an argument that there is no-one more significant in maintaining the image of Rangers than Walter Smith.

Perhaps this is why so many of us consider the Rangers manager to be the physical embodiment of everything that is great and good about the Ibrox club.

I have covered the last 24 hours extensively but at times I have often found myself overthinking and worrying if I am properly paying the man justice.

Kilmarnock v Rangers

Fans will be given the chance to pay tribute to Walter Smith this evening. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

I understand the depth of his influence at Ibrox but I, like many, have struggled to find the words to properly toast such a monumental figure in our history.

Against Aberdeen this evening – and very much in the spirit of the often measured Smith himself – where words fail, the Famous Glasgow Rangers won’t.

The match goes ahead and there would be no more fitting tribute to Sir Walter – between all the kind words and commendations – than 50,000 of his people going home happy.

The Ibrox gaffer was an inspiration to tens of thousands and some revealing clips have shown another side to the Rangers manager as his legacy is celebrated by fans.

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