Villa had made Gerrard top of their list of potential candidates after Smith’s departure on Sunday, with the team in a rut of five successive league defeats.
Gerrard, 41, led Rangers to the Scottish title for the first time in a decade last season, and was on course to defend that crown with a four-point lead over Celtic after 13 games of the current campaign.
But he has never hidden his desire his to manage in the Premier League and to eventually take charge of Liverpool, the boyhood club he captained for much of his career, and Villa offer the perfect opportunity to prove himself in the English top flight.
“Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new head coach,” Gerrard said upon the announcement.
“In my conversations with Nassef, Wes and the rest of the board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everybody associated with Glasgow Rangers for giving me the opportunity to manage such an iconic football club.
“Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future.”
Rangers expressed their gratitude to Gerrard and his backroom staff and wished them future success.
Ibrox chairman Douglas Park said in a statement: “I would firstly like to put on record my thanks to Steven for his outstanding efforts over the last three and a half years at Rangers.
“He has provided us all with some unforgettable moments, not least his delivery of the Scottish Premiership title back to Ibrox last season having not lost a match in the entire league campaign.
“In European competition, he has restored the good name and credibility of our club on the continent and leaves us in a very healthy position on the pitch.”
Villa carry plenty of ambition to climb up the Premier League after investing in the playing squad following the £100m sale of club captain Jack Grealish to Manchester City in the summer, though Gerrard’s first job will be to arrest their slide towards a possible relegation battle.
They currently sit 16th in the league table. His first game in charge will be at home to Brighton on 20 November.
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