McLeish was unveiled by the Barclays Premier League strugglers on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after quitting as Scotland boss. Smith realised day-to-day involvement with players could attract McLeish back to club football - but had nonetheless hoped he would extend his contract beyond the 2010 World Cup campaign.
"I thought we had a chance of persuading Alex to stay, unless the right job came up," said Smith. "When there was all the speculation about Birmingham I didn´t expect them to be the one to attract Alex."
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