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Mike Smith
Mike Smith was in charge of Wales for 40 games over two spells

Former Wales manager Mike Smith, the first non-Welshman to manage the national side, has died at the age of 83.

Hendon-born Smith, a former amateur player with Corinthian Casuals, had two separate spells in charge of Wales.

He first became manager in 1974 and guided Wales to the quarter-finals of the European Championship in 1976.

After managing Hull City and Egypt, he had a second spell in charge of Wales between 1994 and 1995.

Smith was the Football Association of Wales’ director of coaching, responsible for overseeing the development of the intermediate teams, when he was appointed Wales’ first full-time manager in 1974, succeeding Dave Bowen.

Mike Smith (right) with Vinnie Jones
Mike Smith (right) gave Vinnie Jones a Wales debut against Bulgaria in 1994

He was credited with raising the standards of the national team.

In his first qualifying campaign in charge, Wales won a group including Austria and Hungary to reach the quarter-finals of the European Championship.

Wales were beaten by Yugoslavia over two legs in the last eight, including a controversial second leg at Cardiff’s Ninian Park.

The national side also missed out on qualification for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, when their hopes were ended by a 2-0 loss to Scotland in a ‘home’ game at Liverpool’s Anfield.

Smith left his position as Wales boss in 1979 and became manager of Hull City, where he remained until 1982.

In 1985 he became manager of Egypt and led them to victory in the African Cup of Nations a year later.

Smith returned to the Wales coaching team in early 1994 when John Toshack was appointed part-time manager.

With Toshack combining the role with his day-to-day job as Real Sociedad coach, Smith was appointed his assistant.

But Toshack quit after only 48 days and one game in charge and Smith was appointed for his second spell.

That period, at a difficult time for Welsh football following failure to reach the 1994 World Cup, saw defeats by Moldova and Georgia end hopes of qualification for Euro 96.

A 1-0 home defeat by Georgia in June 1995 marked his final game after 16 months in charge of Wales.

Former Wales and Swansea City striker Alan Curtis, who won his first international cap under Smith in 1976 was among those to pay tribute.

Curtis described Smith as “meticulous” in his approach with his achievements not receiving the praise they deserved.

“I’ve always said that Mike was the first proper coach that I’d ever worked with in terms of the way he spoke about the game, his ideas on the game,” Curtis told BBC Radio Wales.

“Even little things when I was playing as a striker – always to go across the goalkeeper and even if he saves the ball then all he can do is parry it out and if somebody is following it up then we’d still be able to get a goal.

“From a coaching perspective he was excellent. He was way ahead of his time.”

Source: BBC

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