Goalkeeper Heaton last week became one of 12 players to join Villa during a hectic summer window, ending a six-year stay at Burnley. The 33-year-old’s return from injury during the second half of last season was a key factor in the Clarets maintaining their Premier League status.
Smith believes Heaton, who has three international caps, will bring much-needed top flight experience to the Villa dressing room.
He said: “I’m very surprised we managed to get Tom. He has been a very successful keeper at Burnley and was pivotal for them last season.
“You only need to look at the reaction of the opposition supporters to know you have a really good signing. They were very disappointed he had left them.
“It is something we needed. I felt we had recruited well but had a lot of inexperience for the Premier League, albeit with the hunger and drive to do well. Tom gives us that experience as well but also a personality which is one of a leader, in and around the dressing room. I think he will do well for us.”
Heaton, who made his debut in last weekend’s 3-1 friendly win at RB Leipzig, is one of 12 players to have joined Villa during a summer window which has so far seen the club splash out £130million.
Smith thanked billionaire owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens for backing his squad rebuild.
“It’s been tremendous,” he said. “We had plans for being a Championship team and a Premier League team. Once we won at Wembley we could move forward with the latter.
“We met the owners two or three days later. We are thankful for their backing. We have implemented a plan which was already in place and had the backing of everyone.”
Striker Scott Hogan was last night closing in on a loan move to Stoke, as Smith continued his squad rebuild.