The 26-year-old claims that leadership and presence were the greatest attributes of the Serbian defender who won almost every possible honour during his time with the Red Devils.
Smalling told manutd.com: "Vida, as we all called him, just loved to defend.
"A lot is said about the more glamorous side of the game and the flair players but you can't beat someone like Vida as a dominant and aggressive figure in the backline who just wants to stop goals. That's ultimately what we're there to do as defenders and he was always solely focused on that.
"He had many qualities which made him a great defender, but two that stand out for me were his leadership and his presence.
"I'm pretty sure that when players on the opposition team saw his name on the team-sheet, they would be fearful. He had that fear factor and that made him such a big presence for us. The aggression he had is probably the biggest thing I took from playing alongside him.
'No matter whether it was a training session or a match, no-one ever wanted to be up against Vida because he'd have no hesitation in kicking you as well as the ball if it was there to be won! [Smiles] He was committed every day."