LONDON: Former Liverpool captain Tommy Smith, who led the Merseysiders to domestic and European success and gained a reputation as one of the game's toughest tacklers, has died aged 74, the club said on Friday (Apr 12).
Smith, known by supporters as the 'Anfield Iron', played 638 games for Liverpool, winning four league titles, a European Cup, two FA Cups and two UEFA Cups in his time at the club.
He captained the Reds for three years and scored 48 goals between 1962 and 1978 including one in the 1977 European Cup final, when Liverpool beat Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-1 to lift the trophy for the first time.
Having joined the club as a schoolboy, he was fast-tracked into the first team by former manager Bill Shankly and swiftly gained a reputation as one of football's most fearsome competitors.
Shankly once famously said of Smith - a true hard man in an era when tough tackling was encouraged and admired - that he "was not born, he was quarried".
Liverpool said in a statement on their website that they were "deeply saddened" by the news.
Smith was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014 after caring for his wife Susanne who died after suffering from the same condition.
Smith suffered a heart attack in 2007 before being diagnosed with Alzheimers and dementia in 2014.
Smith's former Liverpool team-mate Phil Thompson told Sky Sports that his fellow defender was an 'icon'.
"I loved him from the Kop, because of his passion, commitment and never-say-die attitude," he said.
"He was an incredible figure who helped me out enormously. Liverpool Football Club owe this guy a debt of gratitude.
"To go on and play with him, rub shoulders with him, go into battles with him, he was iconic. He wanted and desired the points every week.
"Tommy was the epitome of what Bill Shankly demanded. He drove the team, he was incredible."
Former Liverpool player and manager Kenny Dalglish added: "He was a great advert for Liverpool Football Club, the way he conducted himself. His memories will be there forever."
Ray Clemence was one of the Liverpool goalkeepers who benefitted from Smith's defensive excellence.
"So desperately sorry to hear of the passing of Tommy Smith a real legend of the club. Honoured to play with him. Great captain and leader of men thoughts are with family and friends," Clemence said.