For­mer Eng­land coach Gra­ham Tay­lor dies

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Gra­ham Tay­lor, the Eng­land coach de­rided for fail­ing to qual­ify for the 1994 World Cup af­ter flour­ish­ing as a club man­ager work­ing for pop star El­ton John, has died. He was 72.

Tay­lor, who won ad­mi­ra­tion by lead­ing As­ton Villa and Wat­ford into the top-flight in the 1980s, died early yes­ter­day of a sus­pected heart at­tack, his fam­ily said.

"The fam­ily are dev­as­tated by this sud­den and to­tally un­ex­pected loss," a fam­ily state­ment said.

Tay­lor is one of only four man­agers to have taken the same team from the fourth to the top divi­sion in English soc­cer, and he achieved it within five years at Wat­ford.

El­ton John, who owned Wat­ford dur­ing Tay­lor’s two stints in charge, said it was a "sad and dark day" for the club.

"He was like a brother to me," John wrote on an In­sta­gram post . "We shared an un­break­able bond since we first met. We went on an in­cred­i­ble jour­ney to­gether and it will stay with me for­ever.

"He took my beloved Wat­ford from the depths of the lower leagues to un­charted ter­ri­tory and into Europe. We have be­come a lead­ing English club be­cause of his man­age­rial wis­dom and ge­nius."

Tay­lor reached the pin­na­cle of English man­age­ment when he was hired by the na­tional team in 1990, in­her­it­ing a side that reached the World Cup semi­fi­nals.

"His en­thu­si­asm for life and foot­ball was in­cred­i­ble," for­mer Eng­land player Paul Gas­coigne said.

Tay­lor guided Eng­land to the 1992 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, but the team was elim­i­nated at the first stage, set­ting the tone for the rest of his time with the na­tional team.

Af­ter Eng­land lost 2-1 to Swe­den in its fi­nal game at Euro 92, The Sun tabloid trashed Tay­lor with the head­line: "Swedes 2 Turnips 1."

The fail­ure to reach the 1994 World Cup in the United States was a blot on Tay­lor’s ac­com­plish­ments in man­age­ment af­ter a mod­est play­ing ca­reer ended at age 28 due to a hip in­jury.

Hav­ing al­ready be­come the youngest per­son to at­tain a full Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion coach­ing badge, Tay­lor was able to move straight into man­age­ment with Lin­coln af­ter play­ing for the team.

Af­ter win­ning the fourth tier, Tay­lor moved south to Wat­ford.

With the board­room backing of John, Tay­lor guided Wat­ford from the fourth divi­sion to the first divi­sion (then the top tier), an FA Cup fi­nal and Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion in five years from 1978.

John then al­lowed Tay­lor to move to As­ton Villa, where he se­cured pro­mo­tion to the top-flight and a sec­ond-place fin­ish in 1990.

He re­turned as club man­age­ment af­ter his Eng­land man­age­ment, tak­ing Wat­ford back into the Pre­mier League and en­joy­ing one fi­nal spell at Villa be­fore leav­ing the dugout for good in 2003. He was a reg­u­lar com­men­ta­tor on matches in re­cent years for BBC ra­dio.

Gra­ham Tay­lor, right, with Paul Gas­coigne. For­mer Eng­land soc­cer coach Gra­ham Tay­lor has died of a sus­pected heart

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