Forth, Lanarkshire born outside right Willie Waddell only played professionally for Rangers in a career spanning both sides of the Second World War. He made his debut at the age of 17 in a friendly match against Arsenal in 1938, scoring the winning goal, and his Scottish League debut soon followed against Ayr United in a 4-1 victory at Ibrox that September. He went on to win four Scottish League titles in 1939, 1947, 1949 and 1953 and two Scottish Cup wins in 1949 and 1953, as well as playing a large part in other successful cup runs without playing in the finals, playing his final match at Aberdeen in April 1955 before his retirement from playing. He scored 58 goals in 301 appearances for Rangers, and also scored 81 goals in 232 wartime matches,
He first played for Scotland in May 1946 in a 3-1 victory over Switzerland at Hampden Park, and won 18 caps, scoring 6 goals, through to his final international appearance against Ireland at Hampden in October 1954. Additionally he represented The Scottish League on five occasions, scoring once, between his debut in a 3-1 defeat to The Football League at Hampden in March 1947 and his final appearance in a 2-1 defeat to the same opponents at Hillsborough in October 1951.
Waddell entered football management with Kilmarnock in July 1957. Under his guidance, ‘Killie’ became only the third provincial team to break the post-war grip of the Glasgow and Edinburgh giants by winning the Scottish League Championship. In 1965 they needed to beat their closest rivals, Heart of Midlothian, in the capital on the final day of the season by two goals, and achieved a famous 2-0 victory. He left his position with Kilmarnock that summer
The following year Jock Stein’s Celtic began their extraordinary run of nine consecutive titles, and in response to their rivals’ stranglehold Rangers called Waddell back into the fold in December 1969. He led them in partnership with coach Jock Wallace to European success in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972 where they beat Dynamo Moscow 3-2 in the Final, and then became General Manager in May 1972. Rangers won two trebles of League, League Cup and Cup before he stepped down in 1978.
Waddell’s authority at Rangers was such that even trainee journalists applying to work on the club newspaper had to be vetted by him. During his own career as a press man, before and after managing Kilmarnock, he penned opinionated columns in the now defunct Evening Citizen and Scottish Daily Express.
In his later years he became vice-chairman and then an honorary director of Rangers, who owe much of their present pre-eminence in terms of facilities, resources and playing success to his single mindedness. After the 1971 Ibrox Disaster he was central to the rebuilding of Ibrox into a modern stadium of the highest international standards.