THE First Minister has paid tribute to Rangers legend Walter Smith after he died at the age of 73.

The former Scotland and Everton manager was hailed as a “true football great” by Nicola Sturgeon.

He won 21 major honours across two spells in charge of Rangers following a playing career with Dundee United and Dumbarton.

Sturgeon tweeted: “Very sad to hear of the death of former Rangers and Scotland manager, Walter Smith - he was a true football great.

“My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues across the world of football.”

Smith succeeded Graeme Souness as Rangers manager in 1991.

He won 13 major trophies in seven years, including seven league titles in succession, before leaving at the end of the 1997/98 season and subsequently joining Everton.

He stayed at Goodison Park for four seasons before a brief stint as assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Smith was appointed Scotland manager in December 2004 and was in charge for three years before returning to Rangers, where he won a further eight trophies before retiring in 2011 after completing another domestic double.

Rangers chairman Douglas Park said: "I spoke with Walter as recently as last weekend. Even when he was battling illness, he was still able to provide advice and support. For that, I am personally grateful.

"I know that he continued also to maintain dialogue with senior members of staff, including our manager, Steven Gerrard.

"Walter will be sorely missed by all of us at Rangers.”

Smith leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren.

The Scottish Football Association tweeted: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the former Scotland national coach, and one of the most successful managers in Scottish football history, Walter Smith.

"The thoughts of everyone at the Scottish FA are with his friends and family at this time."

Scotland captain Andy Robertson was among several big name football figures to pay their respects.

"Thoughts, prayers and condolences with Walter Smith’s family and loved ones today," he wrote. "Heartbreaking to lose another great of Scottish football. A man of wisdom, dignity and integrity whose legacy will live on. May he rest in peace."

Manchester United posted: "Everyone at Manchester United is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Walter Smith.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Walter's friends and family at this extremely difficult time."

Former Everton defender Alan Stubbs was among several former players to pay tribute.

“So sad to hear of the passing of Walter Smith,” he wrote. "Will always be so grateful to him for giving me a chance to fulfil my dream!! RIP Gaffer."

Former Everton striker Kevin Campbell added: "R.I.P. Walter Smith you were such a great man and I can't thank you enough for bringing me to Everton.

"A true football great."

Everton added their voice to the condolences for Smith, calling it a "sad day for football".

The Merseyside club tweeted: "A very sad day for football.

"Walter Smith OBE, former Rangers, Scotland and Everton manager, has passed away.

"A man held in high regard by all his players.

"Our thoughts are with Walter's loved ones at this tough time."