Wales’ first-ever full-time football manager Mike Smith has died at the age of 83.
Smith enjoyed a stellar reputation among football supporters in this corner of the world during his two stints in charge of the national team.
“The Football Association of Wales is saddened to learn that former Cymru manager Mike Smith has passed away, aged 83,” an FAW statement issued on Thursday said.
“The first Englishman to manage Cymru, Smith’s playing career was restricted to the amateur game as he represented Corinthian Casuals.
“However, he made his name in coaching circles following his appointment as director of coaching of the Football Association of Wales, with the responsibility of overseeing the development of the intermediate teams.
“He replaced Dave Bowen as manager in 1974, and guided Cymru to the Euro 1976 quarter-finals after impressively topping their group but suffered a 3-1 aggregate defeat against Yugoslavia.
“The thoughts of everyone at the FAW are with Mike Smith’s family and friends at this sad time.”
When he first became manager in 1974 he was the first non-Welshman to take charge of the national team and set about guiding Wales to the quarter finals of the 1976 European Championship.
With a team littered with the talents of John Toshack and Leighton James, and captained by Terry Yorath, Wales topped their qualifying group which included Austria and Hungary to reach the quarter-finals.
They were eventually beaten over two legs by Yugoslavia and that was marred by controversy after the East German referee gave a contentious penalty during the second leg at Ninian Park which all but consigned the Welsh to defeat.
Smith would not be deterred, however, and his side roared back in the next qualifying campaign, this time for the 1978 World Cup.
However, a devastating 2-0 defeat by Scotland, which took place at Anfield in Liverpool despite it being a home fixture for Wales, put paid to Smith’s dream of leading Wales at the World Cup.
Smith, born in Hendon in north London, was then picked up Third Division side Hull City, which he managed until 1982.
A change of continent then game in 1985 when he was appointed manager of the Egypt national side. Remarkably, he led them to victory in the 1986 Africa Cup of Nations and remains the only British manager ever to win the competition.
Smith, who was an amateur footballer in his playing days with Corinthian Casuals in Kingston-upon-Thames, returned to the Wales coaching set-up when John Toshack was installed as part-time manager in 1994.
However, juggling the job with his day job at Real Sociedad, Toshack lasted just 48 days in charge and his assistant Smith then assumed command.
It was a tough period for the Welsh national side at that time, though, and Wales failed to qualify for both the 1994 World Cup and 1996 European Championship.
Smith’s final game in his second stint in charge of Wales was a 1-0 defeat to Georgia in June 1995.