Former England and Aston Villa defender Ugo Ehiogu has died aged 44, Tottenham have announced.
Ehiogu, Spurs’ Under-23 coach, collapsed on Thursday at the club’s training centre before being rushed to hospital.
But the former Villa, Middlesbrough and Rangers defender died in the early hours of this morning.
It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing of Ugo Ehiogu, our Under-23 coach. pic.twitter.com/sSU0yqVfyk
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 21, 2017
His former clubs including Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Rangers and West Brom were among those to pay tribute to a player described as an uncompromising defender on the field and a gentleman off it.
Ehiogu’s former Villa team-mate Lee Hendrie told Sky Sports News: “To find out he has passed away, it must be devastating for his family.
“Ugo was such a character. He has always been that bubbly character. He was just a great guy to have around.”
Current Villa manager Steve Bruce also paid tribute to Ehiogu, describing the centre-back as a “bargain” signing by former Villa Park boss Ron Atkinson in 1991.
Bruce told a press conference ahead of Villa’s derby against Birmingham on Sunday: “I played against him. Big Ron bought him for £45,000 – what a bargain. He was a great player.”
Stoke manager Mark Hughes also played against Ehiogu and remembered what it was like to face the defender.
Hughes said: “He was a big strong guy, a big athlete, and you knew when you went up against him it was always going to be a difficult game. That is why, when these things happen, it is even more shocking, because you remember them in their prime. It is a real shame.”
Villa, for whom Ehiogu played more than 300 games, tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of our former defender Ugo Ehiogu.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this terribly sad time.”
The club added: “We will be holding a minute’s applause before our derby with @BCFC…
“Both sets of players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect.”
Tottenham forward Shayon Harrison, who was coached by Ehiogu at the club, added his own tribute.
Harrison, who is on loan at Yeovil, wrote: “One of the most genuine, and caring people I’ve ever met. An honour to have been taught by you, not only as a player, but as a person. ðð½UE”
Former Tottenham and England defender Sol Campbell tweeted: “One of my East London mates of old. Ugo Ehiogu true defender my heart goes out to his family. I just can’t believe it!”
Trevor Sinclair, the former England, QPR and West Ham winger, said on Twitter: “Absolutely devastated to hear Ugo Ehiogu has died! Thoughts and prayers with his family and loved ones ðð¾ such a lovely gentleman RIP
Ehiogu played four times for England and was also part of the coaching team for England Under-20s at the 2013 World Cup in Turkey.
Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said: “We’re devastated to hear the news that Ugo Ehiogu has passed away. Our thoughts and sympathies are with all lucky enough to know him.
“A hugely popular figure across English football but particularly at Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, he was also close to many at Wembley and St George’s Park through his England connections – both as a player and as a coach.
“He will be much missed by the game he served so well.”
Middlesbrough, where Ehiogu played over 100 times, tweeted: “MFC are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of our former player Ugo Ehiogu. Our thoughts go out to Ugo’s friends and family.”
West Brom, where Ehiogu began his career, tweeted: “The thoughts of everyone at #WBA are with the family and friends of Ugo Ehiogu, who started his career at The Hawthorns. Rest in peace.”
Rangers said in a statement: “Rangers Football Club is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of former defender Ugo Ehiogu.
“The 44-year-old Englishman joined the Light Blues when Walter Smith returned as manager in 2007 and made a huge impact in his short time in Glasgow – notably his winning goal at Celtic Park in the derby.
“He died after suffering a heart attack at Tottenham’s training ground and everyone associated with the club sends their sincere condolences to Ugo’s family and friends at this difficult time.”