DEAN KEATES described Manny Smith as "one of my best signings" and thanked the centre-back for everything he did for Wrexham Football Club.

Smith announced his retirement on Tuesday after admitting defeat in an 18 month injury battle with a serious knee injury.

During his two spells at The Racecourse, he made more than 150 appearances and Keates, who re-signed Smith from Gateshead in the summer of 2017, says the defender was a model pro who consistently produced the goods on the football pitch.

"I can't speak highly enough of him," said Keates. "I seen him many years ago when I was playing at Walsall and he was a young pro coming through.

"I played with him here and then brought him back, and he will go down as one of my best signings; he was unbelievable for this football club.

"Manny was somebody who never really picked up any niggles or missed any games and it is unfortunate what has happened but we thank him for everything he has done for the football club.

"The way he led was by how he want about his job and the way he played was the way he trained. He wasn't the most vocal person but around the changing room he was unbelievable and what he did on the pitch, he was outstanding."

Keates felt Smith was making progress in his rehabilitation but understands why he's called time on his playing days.

"I spoke with Manny about 7-10 days ago and he first mentioned it then," said Keates.

"I was taken aback by it because there was a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel but if I am honest, by looking at him and the way he spoke, it just got too much mentally.

"It became a little bit too far for him.

"It has been horrific what he has had to go through, the amount of operations and what happened with the infection, but you wish the lad and his family all the best for the next chapter.

"From speaking to him, it is interesting what is on the horizon for him.

"We wish him all the best with that."

Keates added: "Me personally, the relationship will continue with him going forward.

"He knows where I am and if he ever needs anything."

Mark Carrington, the longest serving player in the squad, remembers the 2014-15 season when Smith played all 61 league and cup games.

“It is sad news,” said Carrington. “Manny messaged us in our group chat before the news broke saying that he was going to have to retire.

“Obviously it has been a tough couple of years for him trying to come back and he has not managed to but what a player, what a guy.

“We had a full car journey on the way in to training just taking about Manny, and when he played 61 games in a season and didn’t miss a minute.

“I used to love playing right-back when he was centre-half, he made my job so much easier, and he will be sadly missed.”

Smith joined Wrexham following a successful trial ahead of the 2014-15 campaign but he was surprisingly released at the end of the 2015-16 season by then-manager Gary Mills and he signed for Gateshead.

But after just one season at the Heed, Smith's contract was cancelled for personal reasons and he re-joined Wrexham in July 2017.

Smith built up a superb partnership with captain Shaun Pearson at the heart of the Reds defence in 2017-18.

“When Manny came back, he and the skipper were formidable and you won’t find a better pairing than those two," added Carrington.

"Manny was just so relaxed and chilled, so laid back.

“He didn’t lose a header, didn’t lose a tackle. How he played at this level and didn’t play higher for longer was a mystery."