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Gordon Melville Smith

Footballer

Footballer

Born: July 3, 1954; Died: April 5, 2014,aged 59.

Gordon Smith, who has died aged 59, was a former Scotland Under-23 full-back. He was born in Partick, but raised in Drumchapel, learning the game with the Glasgow United Boys Club team.

This had proved to be a profitable recruiting ground for St Johnstone, and when future Scotland boss Willie Ormond snapped up Smith in November 1969, the 15-year-old was following in the footsteps of Alex Macdonald and John Connolly, both of whom had gone to Perth from United.

Back then, Smith was a midfielder, making his first-team debut in that role, against Montrose, at Links Park, on 30 August, 1972. However, after Ormond left to manage Scotland, Smith was switched to full-back, to such good effect that he won four Scotland Under-23 caps, twice facing each of Denmark and Romania in the European Under-23 Championships qualifying round of season 1975-76. He was only the third Perth Saint to be selected for the Under-23 squad.

The St Johnstone player was in good company in those Under-23 squads. Alan Rough was the goalkeeper, Frankie Gray his full-back partner; the central defenders were Alan Hansen, David Narey and Willie Miller, while Andy Gray, Willie Pettigrew, Alfie Conn Jnr and the other Gordon Smith, the subsequent SFA chief executive, were amongst the forwards.

He had played his part in getting Saints into the inaugural Premier Division that season but that first Premier League campaign was a disaster for the Perth club, who were relegated and, with the club facing severe financial pressure the following season, when Aston Villa offered what was then, for them, a club record fee of £80,000, Smith, after 118 games for Saints, swapped central Scotland for the English Midlands.

In three seasons at Villa Park, he played nearly 100 games for the club, including an appearance, off the bench, in the English League Cup final, in his first season in Birmingham, in 1977. Indeed, it was from his cross that Villa legend Brian Little scored the cup-winning goal in the match, against Everton, at Old Trafford.

From Villa Park, he moved further south, after Tottenham Hotspur paid £150,000 to take him to White Hart Lane in 1979. He played around 50 games for Spurs during his three seasons with the club. He was in the squad for the 1981 FA Cup Final but had to watch from the stands.

From Tottenham, he returned to the Midlands, to join Wolverhampton Wanderers, for whom he played some 50 games during three seasons interrupted by injury.

He then crossed the Atlantic to play for Phoenix Pride and Pittsburg Spirit in the North American Indoor League, after which he retired and returned to his native Glasgow.

After football, he ran a company selling and installing advertising boards at football grounds across Europe, working mainly for companies associated with the Champions League.

Smith died after a short illness and is survived by his wife Elaine and children Sadie and Cameron.

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