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Thompson's tribute to Anfield Iron Smith (74)

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Smith earned the nickname of the 'Anfield Iron' due to his uncompromising style as a defender for his hometown club. Pic; Action Images PLC

Smith earned the nickname of the 'Anfield Iron' due to his uncompromising style as a defender for his hometown club. Pic; Action Images PLC

Action Images PLC

Smith earned the nickname of the 'Anfield Iron' due to his uncompromising style as a defender for his hometown club. Pic; Action Images PLC

Liverpool owe Tommy Smith a "debt of gratitude" after his death at the age of 74, according to former team-mate Phil Thompson.

The Anfield club announced Smith - a multiple trophy winner during his time with them - had died last night.

Smith earned the nickname of the 'Anfield Iron' due to his uncompromising style as a defender for his hometown club.

Despite that reputation, Smith was only sent off once in his 638 appearances for Liverpool which came between 1960 and 1978 and saw him win four league titles, the European Cup, two FA Cups and two UEFA Cups. And Thompson, who revered Smith from the terraces before playing alongside him, believes the club owe Smith a huge amount.

"I loved him from the Kop because of his passion, commitment and never-say-die attitude," Thompson told Sky Sports. "And then to go play alongside him, rub shoulders with him, go into battles with him, he was iconic. He wanted and desired the points every week.

"He was an incredible figure who helped me out enormously. To go from being a fan to play with him... he never gave up. Liverpool Football Club owe this guy a debt of gratitude.

"Tommy was the epitome of what Bill Shankly demanded. He drove the team, he was incredible. Who will forget his headed goal that won the 1977 European Cup final? The fella drove us on.

"This is a heartbreaking moment. He wanted success so much it took over his whole life."