Gordon Smith

Former professional footballer, former SFA CEO and former Director of Rangers Football Club
BA in Business Studies 1977

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"I have fond memories of my time at the university."

Gordon Smith started playing professional football for Ayrshire in 1972. In 1977 he signed for Rangers, where he had an outstanding career with the team, winning the League, Scottish Cup and League Cup in his first season followed by a League Cup and Scottish Cup his next. 

He moved south in 1980 to Brighton and Hove Albion, then in the top division, and played in the FA Cup Final. Later in his career he featured for Manchester City, Oldham Athletic, Admira Wacker, Basel and Stirling Albion. 

After his football career, Gordon turned to commentary and wrote a column for the Daily Express. Then he was offered a position that would change his life. In 2007 he became the Chief Executive of Scottish Football Association and, four years later, he was the Director of football for Rangers. 

Since then, Gordon has moved on to business. He deals with European Business Development at Cairnhill Structures, a company that provides steel fabricated products, design and installation services for the oil and gas sector. He is also the Brand Ambassador and Business Development Manager for FundHub, a fundraising initiative for charities and businesses. 

He has since been back to campus to deliver a masterclass on the importance of psychology in sport. 

What made you choose GCU and your specific course? 

My mother saw the advert in a newspaper and applied on my behalf. 

What are your memories of University? 

I enjoyed meeting new friends and being in a classroom where there was a much more relaxed environment than school. Unbelievably, they even let people smoke during lectures. 

I had to miss some final exams in the second year because I was playing for Scotland U23s in Romania in a European qualifier. I was away for a week and was asked to sit the exams I had missed the day after my return. 

Were you involved in any clubs or societies? 

I didn’t have time for clubs or societies. At that time I lived in Ayrshire and was a professional footballer, training at least two nights a week, but I would have loved to have had the opportunity to be involved..

Did any member of staff have a lasting influence on you?

I found all the lecturers interesting and approachable unlike many of the school teachers I had experienced. 

What advice would you give to new students? 

There’s always a fear of the unknown, but your fellow initiates will feel the same. You have to see the course and qualification as part of your life plan or else your motivation will be insufficient. 

What is your greatest professional achievement? 

To have played football at the highest level in four countries. 

Which single word sums up your university experience? 

Challenging. 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

I enjoy reading, apart from novels, going to the theatre, listening to music, playing tennis and golf.

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