RIP Walter Smith: The Rangers legend who might have kept Sheffield Wednesday in the Premier League

The sad news of the passing of Rangers legend, Walter Smith, has been confirmed – and many Sheffield Wednesday fans may still wonder ‘what if’.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 3:37 pm

Smith, who was 73, managed the Scottish giants as well as Scotland’s national team and Everton, but was also on the brink of joining the Owls prior to his move to Goodison Park in the late 1990s.

Football mourned his passing on Tuesday as various clubs and former colleagues sent their well wishes to his family, and for Wednesdayites it was a reminder of the fact that the well-respected manager could’ve been the man to keep Wednesday in the Premier League all those years back.

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The former Dundee United defender spent almost four years at Everton after leaving Rangers as their second most successful manager of all time in 1998, but it had previously been reported at the time that he was on the verge of making the move to Hillsborough following Ron Atkinson’s exit.

He said at the time: “I don't believe I have let Sheffield Wednesday down, and I've talked to their chairman to explain my decision. They made me a good offer but nothing had been agreed, and the fact that I've chosen Everton speaks volumes."

Instead, the Owls ended up hiring Danny Wilson, who was ultimately the manager that was relegated with the club from the Premier League in 2000 – even though it was Paul Jewell actually in charge by the time relegation was confirmed.

His time on Merseyside was tough… There was talk of broken promises by the club’s owners, and he lost numerous key players that were sold on, but he still managed to guide them to a couple of FA Cup quarterfinals and improve on their finishes from the two campaigns before his arrival.

Walter Smith nearly joined Sheffield Wednesday in 1998, but instead went on to take on the managerial role at Everton. (Allsport UK /Allsport)

We’ll never know what may have happened to Wednesday trajectory had the well-liked Scot come on board at S6 – but what is certain is that his death marks the passing of a British manager that gave so much to the game, and will be missed by those that knew him.