Walter Smith gave a nonchalant nod to Richard Foster and turned him from Aberdeen loan man to Champions League hero.

Foster says the late Rangers great was the ultimate master of man-management.

He deployed different tactics with each of his star Ibrox cast and produced the right result on nearly every occasion.

He used a matter-of-fact and understated style to ensure Foster wasn’t fazed by facing Spanish aces Valencia in a daunting first ever start for the club in 2010.

Foster said: “ Walter was one of those guys that never seemed to get it wrong in terms of how he treated people.


“He knew the ones who needed a blast and which ones were more fragile. His timing was the best.

“He was able to individualise his man-management but still keep it fair in the group.

“He’s managed some big characters over the years - Gascoigne, McCoist, Durrant. Not always easy to manage but he just struck the right balance all the time.

“With all respect to Kyle Lafferty, he’s a bit of an enigma. The gaffer was just great at being able to get the best out of him.

“Before Valencia, we walked in from training and pulled me over, put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘Fozz, what do you think about playing tomorrow?’

“I was like: ‘Aye, great’. Then all he said was: ‘Alright’. And left it at that. That’s how he told me I was making my first start for Rangers - playing in the Champions League at Ibrox, a huge occasion, coming from Aberdeen.

“I think he realised that if he’d made a big deal then it could be overwhelming for me.

“He didn’t want me to get too nervous and let the occasion get the better of me.

“The way he delivered the news was just perfect. It allowed me to relax. If I needed a calming word, he was always there.”

Richard Foster in action during his loan spell at Ibrox

Foster helped secure a 1-1 draw that night to kickstart a dream season, making 25 appearances and lifting the league title.

“One special memory was probably walking around the pitch with my son in my hands, he was just a baby at the time, after we’d won the league,” said Foster.

“Walking beside was Walter and his grandchildren. Even now my son doesn’t realise the significance of that and what a man Walter was. He was funny, he was firm, he was fair.

“Walter and the Nine In A Row squad was the team I followed when I was younger.

“So it was kind of bewildering to walk in and see him there with McCoist, Durrant as his staff. It was a lot to take in.

“Just watching him work and seeing the way he was in the dressing room and about the place was quite surreal.

“When a manager of that stature puts faith in you and you’re able to put in a few performances - not all the time, mind you! - it feels great.

“I feel privileged to have been able to play a part in a Walter Smith squad.”