Former Liverpool captain Tommy Smith passed away at the age of 74 on Saturday. Smith helped the Reds to domestic and European success in the 1960s and 1970s.
The defender was known as ‘Anfield Iron’ for his hard tackling. In his 18-year-old career with the Anfield club, Smith scored 48 goals and won four league titles – the European Cup final, FA Cup twice and the UEFA Cup twice.
Smith mainly rose to fame under former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly’s coaching when his team went on to beat Leeds United in 1965 to win the FA Cup for the first time.
Two years later, he headed the second goal to inspire the club to win their maiden European Club title under Bob Paisley as they defeated Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 in the final in Rome.
Slowly, he carved a niche for himself that managers from other teams started looking for him through the option of a transfer window, but former Liverpool coach Shankly put the water into the matter by dismissing all speculations.
Smith made his debut for Liverpool on May 8th, 1963 during the Reds’ 5-1 home win over Birmingham City. Being a tough defender Smith used to strike fear into the hearts of strikers such as Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Greaves while allowing his teammates to thrive.
Describing Smith once Shankly said – 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.
In 2014, Smith was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease while taking care of his ailing wife Susanne who died after suffering from the same condition.
"Dad died very peacefully in his sleep shortly after 4.30pm today at his nursing home. He had been growing increasingly frail and suffering from a variety of ailments over the last three months especially. We are obviously all devastated,” his daughter, Janette Simpson, said while speaking to the club website.
Meanwhile, former Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence, who won the 1973 league and UEFA Cup double under Smith’s captaincy and spent several hours with him on the field, took to Twitter to pay his tribute.
“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,” he tweeted.
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 #YNWA
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