FORMER Premier League star Ugo Ehiogu sadly passed away today following a sudden heart attack.
The 44-year-old, who played as a defender for Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, collapsed at Tottenham’s training centre on Thursday, where he was the Under-23 coach. He had received medical treatment on site before being transferred to hospital by ambulance, but a statement from the club earlier this morning has confirmed his death.
R.I.P. Ugo, this article is for you.
Ehiogu was a product of Senrab FC – where the likes of John Terry, Jermain Defoe and Sol Campbell were also spotted.
He joined Aston Villa as a teenager from West Brom for just £40,000 back in 1991. Despite a tough start to his career, manager Ron Atkinson waved away any doubts that his haters had towards him and never stopped believing in the centre back.
He went from being a nervy young centre back to a solid, formidable defender. He formed one half of a fine central defensive partnership with Paul McGrath, whose experience certainly aided his development, and also played alongside England manager Gareth Southgate.
He was also a part of the Villa team that won the League Cup at Wembley in March 1996 with a 3-0 victory over Leeds United, which helped to cement his status as a true hero among Villa fans. When he left the club in 2000, he had made 237 appearances in the League.
Then, a new chapter begun with Middlesbrough in what is regarded as a “Golden era” for the club.
Ehiogu signed on at the Riverside for a then club record fee of £8 million. He quickly repaid the faith that the board and manager, Bryan Robson, had shown by spending that kind of cash on him, with his brilliant performances on the pitch, which ensured that he would go down in history at the Riverside stadium.
Pairing up alongside Gareth Southgate once again, the pair formed a stable defensive pairing that helped the club to its first major trophy in 128 years when Boro lifted the 2004 Carling Cup after defeating Bolton Wanderers at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Incredibly, Middlesbrough managed to reach the unchartered waters of European glory in 2006 when they played in the UEFA Cup final, but it provided a sign that Ehiogu’s time at the top may have been coming to an end. He was an unused substitute that day and Boro were hammered 4-0 by Sevilla. He left the club in 2007 with 126 league matches to his name.
He moved onto Sheffield United in the 2008/09 season when they had a brief encounter with the Premier League and made 26 appearances. He then retired in 2009.
Ehiogu also had the chance to represent his country during his career, turning out for England on four occasions.
He was named as a substitute by Sven-Goran Eriksson – the side’s first foreign manager – for his first game in charge against Spain at Villa Park on 28 February 2001, scoring after coming on.
Many believed at the time that had it not been for the likes of younger players like the aforementioned Terry and Campbell and Rio Ferdinand, he would earned many more caps.
He’s fondly remembered at Rangers too, in particular for scoring a spectacular overhead kick that gave them a 1-0 derby win against Celtic in March of 2007.
It seemed that no matter where he went, Ehiogu was a well-loved character, who earned the respect of those around him by playing to the very best of his abilities. He played until his knees gave way. He was a former pro who was forging a reputation as a fine coach of Tottenham’s Under 23 side and it is a real shame to the football world that we will now never get to see him fulfil his potential.
AFEFootballNews’ thoughts go out to Ugo’s family at this terrible moment in time. R.IP.
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