Rovers have expressed their condolences at the passing of former manager Jim Smith, aged 79.

Smith took over at Rovers in June 1975, aged just 34, then in the second division, in what was his second job in management after leaving Colchester United.

He stayed at Ewood Park until March 1978 when he left for First Division side Birmingham City.

In all, Smith took charge of 128 Rovers matches, winning 46, and would go on to have two spells in charge of Oxford as well as QPR, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Derby.  

Rovers, who were newly promoted to the Second Division at the time of Smith's appointment, survived the 1975/76 campaign under his guidance and improved in each of his two following seasons at Ewood Park.

“The club are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former manager Jim Smith,” a club spokesman said.

“The thoughts of everyone at Blackburn Rovers are with his family and friends at this sad time.”

After a long playing career, Smith also served as LMA chief executive before returning to management and leading Derby to the Premier League.

Smith was also inducted into the LMA Hall of Fame - 1,000 club.

LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson paid tribute to Smith, saying: "Jim and I have known each other since our teenage years, and I have been in his debt since the day he asked me to become player-coach at Boston United where I served my apprenticeship.

"I have so many fond memories of Jim as a football manager but foremost as a friend.

"He was intelligent, passionate, determined, honest and always great fun to be with. Never one to mince his words, he was a leader in the truest sense.

"He was liked and admired by everyone around him, truly an authentic, down-to-earth gentleman."