Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tears and Shock at Death of a 'Gentle Giant' of Football

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tears and Shock at Death of a 'Gentle Giant' of Football

Article excerpt

UGO Ehiogu's death at the age of 44 prompted tributes from all over the football world, as former team-mate Paul Merson broke down in tears and said "only the good die young".

Former England defender Ehiogu, who was Tottenham's under-23s coach, collapsed at the club's training centre on Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Ex-clubs and team-mates have paid tribute to a "gentle giant", whose death was announced by Tottenham yesterday morning.

"It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing of Ugo Ehiogu," the club said.

Ehiogu, who played for Middlesbrough and Aston Villa, and was capped by England on four occasions, joined Spurs as a coach in 2014.

He played alongside Merson at Villa and the television pundit broke down on Sky Sports as he watched footage of his friend.

"Billy Joel sings that song Only The Good Die Young, and that is him," he said. "He was a top player, a top bloke and a good friend as well. I talked to him recently and he was always winding me up, telling me Tottenham had some good players coming through..."

Merson's tribute was cut short as he started to cry.

Boro owner Steve Gibson, who also saw Ehiogu lift the league cup for his club, said: "Ugo and Gareth Southgate were the rock on which Steve McClaren brought the club its best period in its history. He wasn't just a good footballer, he was a great man. It's so sudden and so shocking. My deepest sympathies go to his family and all who knew him.

"I would regularly bump into Ugo. Football is a small world and he was always warm, friendly and welcoming. All of Middlesbrough Football Club will miss him."

In announcing the death, Spurs' head of coaching and player development, John McDermott, said: "Words cannot express the sadness that we all feel at the club. Ugo's immense presence will be irreplaceable.

"Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Gemma and his family."

Spurs also added their thanks to the North Middlesex University Hospital, Royal Brompton Hospital and Harefield Hospital, while the club's age-group fixtures have been cancelled this weekend. …

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