Current manager at Ibrox Steven Gerrard fought back tears as he spoke of being made “a better person” by the man who led Rangers to 10 top-flight titles, five Scottish Cups and six League Cups as well as to the 2008 UEFA Cup final.
In his emotional tribute, Gerrard described his mentor as “a great man”.
Speaking to Rangers TV, he said; “I have been the lucky one to know him and spend time with him, so have a lot of other people who will have their own special memories of a great man.
“It is going to be emotional in the coming days and weeks but the best tribute I and we as a team can do is be united, get the fans behind us and try to win the game (on Wednesday against Aberdeen). That will be the best tribute we can give.”
Gerrard added: “Walter was an incredible leader, a very successful manager here at Rangers and he epitomised everything this club stands for.
“His DNA is all over the club and it is obviously very sad news. He has been right behind me since day one. I had many lunches, dinners, coffees and chats and private time with him in the office.”
Another Rangers legend, Ally McCoist said he was “devastated” at the loss of Smith and hailed the former manager as a “second father”.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who had Walter Smith as his assistant at Old Trafford in 2004, said he was “absolutely devastated” at the loss of “a man with a great moral compass in how he lived his life and the friendship he offered so many people”.
Another living football legend, Sir Kenny Daglish, tweeted: “Though we were on opposing sides on the pitch, he was a real footballing friend off of it.
“He was respected by all and one of the few able to transcend rivalries.”
Liverpool and Scotland defender Andy Robertson paid his own tribute to Smith as “a man of wisdom, dignity and integrity whose legacy will live on”.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola described Smith as a valued consultant for the League Managers Association (LMA).
In a statement released through the LMA, Guardiola said: “I have had the opportunity over the past five years to get to know him and see what a humble, insightful and very genuine man he was”.
Former Scotland and Celtic captain Scott Brown praised the former Rangers boss for his efforts to “bridge the gap” between Glasgow’s fierce rivals.
“It’s so sad,” Brown said. “Walter was a fantastic man.”
“He tried to bridge the gap between the two clubs which was fantastic at the time.”