Smith yesterday passed away in Oxford at the age of 79, leaving the city Portsmouth in mourning.
The Bald Eagle was a immensely popular figure with fans and players alike during two Fratton Park spells, both coinciding with memorable Blues success.
Awford was among four home-grown teenagers named in Smith’s side for the trip to Blackburn on the opening day of the 1992-93 campaign.
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The others were Darren Anderton, Kit Symons and Darryl Powell.
The central defender went on to have a distinguished Pompey career, earning him induction into the club's Hall of Fame.
While Awford’s friendship with Smith remained strong long after his playing days ended.
He said: ‘Jim wasn’t just a great manager, he was a great man – and that was the thing for me.
‘I was close to him. All the players of that 92-94 era loved him because of his football knowledge, football brain, everything to do with football he was bang on it.
‘But he was more than a football manager, for me. He was a character, he was scary, he frightened me to death sometimes, but the respect people had for him was fantastic.
‘Jim was a wonderful man, an absolutely fun character to be with, and he will be really, really missed.
‘He had a way about him that could liven up a room, he had a charisma, this wonderful way with people, while that northern accent could put you in your place at times!
‘He gained respect immediately and, the way he treated people, ensured everybody loved him.’
Awford would later work with Smith, firstly as reserve-team coach when his former boss was assistant to Harry Redknapp.
He later served as Smith’s first-team coach at Oxford United.
Awford added: ‘At Blackburn, he threw us youngsters in and we had that spirit.
‘He mixed it with the experience provided by McLoughlin, Clarke, Neill, Kuhl, Knightsie. You look back at that era and realise how good it was.
‘It was a privilege to play for him, work with him and also became a good friend.’