THE pictures and the videos, the words and the tributes are well earned, but nothing can ever do full justice to the man and the manager. Now, there is only one message left to say: Thank you, Walter.

Thank you for your service to club and country. Thank you for your help and your insight. Thank you for the memories.

The bonds formed in success and failure have been broken in death, yet Smith’s legacy is more profound than any match won or lost. He would transcend rivalry, he would transcend sport in a way that only giants of their field can.

Those that had the opportunity to get to know him were the fortunate ones, but his passing at the age of 73 has had a profound impact on those who were never lucky enough to be in the presence of greatness, in every sense of the word.

Smith was the ultimate Ranger, an epitome of the dignity, standards and mindset that supporters associate with their club. He stands alone as a statesman for more than one generation and alongside the greatest figures ever to grace Ibrox.

He was the Rangers manager. He had a presence and an aura that was formidable yet friendly and a record that may never be surpassed by those who follow in his footsteps.

Each league title or cup win only enshrined his place in the pantheon of legends, but Smith meant more to people than just silverware.

Those that knew him best speak of his sense of humour, of his love of music and of golf and the warmth of the messages from across the game paint a picture of a loving husband, a caring father and a doting grandfather.

His loss to his family and friends is incalculable, yet everyone that had an affinity with Smith or an affection for him will mourn his death. It is almost impossible to quantify what Smith meant to Rangers and its supporters.

He was, after all, one of them and the Rangers Family has lost an inspiring, respected and adored figure. It has lost Walter.

As fans struggled to come to terms with such a heartbreakingly sad and tragic death, they were thankful for what Smith had given them in adolescence or adulthood. His endeavours with Rangers and Scotland had shaped lives, had moulded children into men and women.

A video tribute released by Rangers on Tuesday morning told the story of Smith’s professional career at Ibrox but his association with the club stretched far further than those glorious seasons and cherished achievements.

He was a fan who lived the dream, one who allowed others to experience moments that he would have savoured just as much had he been in their position in the stands rather than leading from the front in the dugout. For each, his fellow supporter will forever be indebted.

The same can be said for those who leaned on him for advice and the emotional tribute that Steven Gerrard paid encapsulated the impact that Smith had on him as a man and a manager.

Few people – aside from McCoist himself, perhaps – understood the enormity of title 55 for Rangers as much as Smith and it is poignant that it was the final one that he would see the club, his club, win last season.

When compiling a list of interview targets for my book ‘Going for 55’ earlier this year, Smith’s name was as prominent in my thinking as that of McCoist. No work on Rangers would be complete without Smith’s input.

A mutual friend sounded him out over the space of a couple of weeks before he agreed to help with the project and be interviewed to speak about the impact that Gerrard had made at Ibrox and what the Premiership title win meant for Rangers.

That conversation would sadly never take place. It will remain forever as a ‘what if?’ moment, a source of regret and sadness, but the words of Smith were still included in the finished work thanks to the assistance of his long-time friend Jim Traynor.

As his health deteriorated, Smith was admitted to hospital in the days after Gerrard’s side were crowned champions and it was at that stage the wider support became aware of the issues some had known about for a while beforehand.

It was around that time in March that the manager spoke once again of his relationship with Smith, a man for whom he had the utmost respect and owed so much. Even in his final months, Smith was a standout figure of encouragement and inspiration at Ibrox.

Rangers were his club and he would do whatever he felt he could to help in any way. His return for a short spell as chairman was out of a sense of duty, of loyalty to the institution and the people that make it unique.

Those that played under him or worked with him will mourn his passing. So, too, will old foes and rivals that were once no match for Smith’s tactical astuteness or powers of man management during two glorious spells at Ibrox.

They were triumphs that added to the history of Rangers, yet the humble, hard-working man that earned them never sought the spotlight or the acclaim as he brought happiness to so many.

The famed and feared stare that greeted a line of questioning he didn’t approve of will go down in the folklore of the Scottish game, but the stories told by colleagues who knew him personally and socially will always raise a smile. Today, a glass will be raised.

The old adage about never meeting your heroes didn’t apply to Smith. He was everything you expected, everything you knew he would be and the grief and emotion felt after his death will take some time to clear.

Each player, punter or Press man will have their own favourite Smith recollection and the coming hours, days and weeks will offer chances to reflect and remember a legend and a gentleman.

The memories will be shared and so will a message. For one last time, we say thank you, Walter.