LONDON: Jim Smith, a familiar and popular figure in English football as a manager with nine different clubs in a coaching career spanning nearly 40 years, has died at the age of 79, it was announced on Tuesday.
Smith, a down-to-earth character known fondly throughout the game as the "Bald Eagle", enjoyed success managing in the English top-flight at clubs including Birmingham City, Oxford United and Derby County.
"All at QPR are deeply saddened to have learned of the passing of former R's manager," said a statement from another of Smith's old clubs, Queens Park Rangers, who reached the League Cup final under his stewardship.
Smith, who enjoyed a long playing career in the lower reaches of the Football League and mainly for minor league Boston United, guided both Oxford and Derby into the top division and also managed at Newcastle United and Portsmouth.
Inducted into the League Managers' Association (LMA) Hall of Fame – 1,000 club, he had a spell too as the LMA's chief executive.
"I have so many fond memories of Jim as a football manager but foremost as a friend," said the LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson.
"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."
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; editing by Tony Lawrence)