OXFORD United’s legendary former manager Jim Smith has died aged 79.

Smith had two permanent spells in charge, but is best remembered for a thrilling first stint, which began in March 1982.

Also read: Jim Smith - tributes pour in following death of ex-Oxford United manager

He was at the helm as the U’s won back-to-back league titles, transforming them from a Division 3 side to the top tier.

But the Sheffield-born boss never got to manage the U’s in Division 1, as he resigned over a contract dispute with owner Robert Maxwell.

Oxford Mail:

  • Jim Smith (right), then in charge of QPR, with his Oxford United successor Maurice Evans at the Milk Cup final in 1986

He moved to Queens Park Rangers and, in a twist of fate, faced United in the 1986 Milk Cup final – always maintaining he knew Oxford’s side better than his own.

Smith went on to manage Newcastle United, Portsmouth and Derby County.

But after a string of assistant manager roles he returned to United as part of a consortium which bought the club in March 2006.

Also read: Chris Wilder 'will always be in debt' to Oxford United great

He was unable to keep the U’s in the Football League, but then oversaw a 19-game unbeaten run at the start of the following season in the Conference.

But form soon fell away and Smith’s side were overtaken by Dagenham & Redbridge, before an agonising play-off semi-final defeat to Exeter City on penalties.

Also read: Jim Smith - His Oxford United career in pictures

The hangover carried over into the following campaign and Smith returned to a directorial role in November 2007 with the club mid-table.

He took over the reins for a third time a year later on a caretaker basis, before Chris Wilder was appointed.

The news comes just three days after fellow ex-United boss Ron Saunders died aged 87.