Described as a “visionary”, Mr Walker helped oversee a rich period in Scotland’s history as they reached five major championship finals from the 1974 World Cup to Italia 90.
He was also a key figure in the “Think Tank”, a root-and-branch review of Scottish football undertaken with the help of the Dutch coaching legend, Rinus Michels, during that period.
His death comes less than six months after former SFA chief executive Jim Farry passed away following a heart attack.
Mr McLeish, a former East Fife player who is carrying out a review of Scottish football for the SFA, paid tribute to Mr Walker’s “enormous contribution” to the game.
Speaking exclusively to The Herald, he said he had first met Mr Walker while competing in an under-18s mini World Cup tournament in Yugoslavia in the early 1970s.
He added: “I am saddened to hear of the death of Ernie Walker. He was a giant in the post-war era of Scottish football. He made an enormous contribution to the game in a tough-minded but always courteous manner.
“I (was) personally thrilled to speak to him over the last two years in terms of my own review, but he had done a lot of work prior to that in terms of changing the face of post-war Scottish football.
“Everyone would grieve the loss of Ernie Walker and it would close another chapter in the development of Scottish football. My thoughts are with his family and friends.”
SFA president George Peat said: “On behalf of the Scottish FA I would like to convey by condolences to the Walker family.
“Ernie was renowned throughout the game as a first-class administrator and a first-class gentleman.
“It is a tragedy that we have lost Ernie and his successor, Jim Farry, in recent months; two men who presided over a golden era for Scottish football and the national team.
“Ernie was renowned for his negotiation skills and his impact on the Scottish FA and the game in this country continues to be felt.
“It is symbolic that Ernie’s passing has coincided with another review of Scottish football, conducted by Henry McLeish.
“In many ways, Ernie was a visionary who cared deeply about the national game.”