DEV­AS­TATED SOUTHGATE: ‘UGO WAS A COLOSSUS’

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By John Lyons

ENG­LAND man­ager Gareth Southgate has led the tributes fol­low­ing the death of his for­mer team­mate Ugo Ehiogu.

Ehiogu, who was Tot­ten­ham’s Un­der-23s coach, was taken to hos­pi­tal on Thurs­day af­ter col­laps­ing at the club’s train­ing ground. The 44-year-old suf­fered a car­diac ar­rest and sub­se­quently died in the early hours of Fri­day morn­ing.

His death shocked the foot­ball world and none more so than Eng­land boss Southgate, who formed a cen­tre-back part­ner­ship for al­most a decade with Ehiogu at As­ton Villa and Mid­dles­brough, win­ning the League Cup at both.

“I prob­a­bly played more games with Ugo than any­body else in my ca­reer and while in many ways he was a gen­tle gi­ant away from foot­ball, he was a colossus on the pitch,” said Southgate.

“It felt like a true part­ner­ship with Ugo be­cause we were pre­pared to put our bod­ies on the line for each other.

“We shared highs, lows and won a cou­ple of tro­phies to­gether with Villa and Boro and it’s those mem­o­ries that I will al­ways cher­ish when I think of Ugo.

“He was one of the most pro­fes­sional peo­ple I played with in terms of how he ap­plied him­self to his job and it was great to see him pro­gress­ing through the coach­ing path­way with that thirst for learn­ing.

“I’ve spo­ken to sev­eral of our for­mer team-mates to­day and there’s just a sense of dis­be­lief that we’re hav­ing these con­ver­sa­tions.

“Ugo was a credit to foot­ball, a credit to his fam­ily and he will be missed by every­body who was lucky enough to know him.

“I’m stunned and deeply sad­dened by Ugo’s pass­ing and my thoughts are with his wife Gemma, his chil­dren and his fam­ily.”

Cur­rent Villa boss Steve Bruce also spoke glow­ingly about the for­mer Eng­land in­ter­na­tional.

“I played against him and watched him play for many, many years,” said Bruce.

“Big Ron, I be­lieve, bought him for £45,000 – what a bar­gain that was.

“I had so much ad­mi­ra­tion for him as a fel­low cen­tre-half. He was un­com­pro­mis­ing, quick and gave his all ev­ery sin­gle week – he was a great de­fender.”

It prom­ises to be an emo­tional af­ter­noon when Villa host Birm­ing­ham in the Sec­ond City derby this af­ter­noon.

There will be a minute’s ap­plause in ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Ehiogu, while both sets of play­ers will wear black arm­bands as a mark of re­spect.

Ehiogu started his ca­reer with West Brom, but a cut-price move to As­ton Villa in 1991 proved piv­otal in his ca­reer.

He made 302 ap­pear­ances in just un­der a decade at Villa Park, win­ning the League Cup in 1995-96 and play­ing in the 2000 FA Cup fi­nal de­feat against Chelsea.

He then spent seven years at Mid­dles­brough, win­ning an­other League Cup, be­fore spells with Leeds (loan), Rangers and Sheffield United. He also earned four Eng­land caps, scor­ing once.

LEG­END: Ugo Ehiogu cel­e­brates scor­ing for As­ton Villa and, in­set, at Spurs

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