WALTER SMITH has expressed his shock and sadness at the tragic loss of former Ibrox defender Ugo Ehiogu at the age of 44.
The former England internationalist suffered cardiac arrest at Tottenham Hotspur's training ground on Thursday and died yesterday in hospital.
Smith brought the former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender to Glasgow in January 2007, during his second spell as manager, and he scored a memorable overhead kick winner against Old Firm rivals Celtic at Parkhead in an SPL match in March of that year.
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“First and foremost, my thoughts are with Ugo’s family at this sad and difficult time," Smith said. "When I came back to the club, it was apparent we needed a level of experienced player to come in and Ugo joined us along with Davie Weir.
"For the short period of time he was with the club, he was terrific. He was a fantastic influence in the dressing room and was someone who was totally professional in everything he did. He was a popular member of our dressing room and his performances for the club, considering he was reaching the latter stages of his career, over that short period of time were terrific.
“We went on over a period of years to be fairly successful, but there is no doubt he helped lay the foundation for that success both with his performances and the professionalism he brought to the club.”
Aside from that dramatic Celtic Park winner, Smith's lasting memory of Ehiogu will be his dedication to his profession.
Smith added: “As a central defender, he may not be remembered for his goals, but in the time he was at the club, I think all the supporters will remember him for that goal.
“It was certainly something to remember him by, and from my own point of view, it was great to deal with someone who was reaching towards the end of his career but still had the drive and the determination to play and to try and play at as high a level as he possibly could. I will always remember that about him.”