Former England and Aston Villa defender of Nigerian descent, Ugo Ehiogu, died after suffering a cardiac arrest at Spurs training centre on Thursday.
The official statement from Spurs said Ehiogu, who was the team’s Under 23 coach, died in the early hours of Friday. He was 44 years old.
The England defender was capped four times for the Three Lions and also won three Football League cups. He is reported to have rejected playing for Nigeria after he received a call up in 1992 by the then head coach of the Super Eagles, Clemence Westerhof, while he was still eligible to don the Nigerian Jersey. That squad built by Westerhof, without Ehiogu, became arguably Nigeria’s best, winning the African Nations Cup and qualifying for a first ever World Cup in 1994.
“Words cannot express the shock and sadness that we all feel at the club; Ugo’s immense presence will be irreplaceable.” said Tottenham’s head of coaching and development John McDermott.
Ugo Ehiogu played for Aston Villa between 1991 – 2001 where he earned over 200 appearances for the West Midlands club before moving to Middlesbrough where he spent another seven years. He won the English league cup twice with the Villains in 1994 and 1996 and with Middlesbrough in 2004.
The defender also played for West Brom, Leeds, Rangers and Sheffield United, before retiring in 2009. He then went on into coaching in Tottenham in 2014, a testament to his love for the game.
Outside football, Ugo Ehiogu was also a co-founder of music label Dirty Hit, which has British indie band The 1975 as well as Fossil collective on its books.
Aston Villa will hold a minute’s applause before their Championship league derby against Birmingham City on Sunday, with both sets of players to wear black armbands.
Middlesbrough also paid respect to Ehiogu before their English Premier League game against AFC Bournemouth at the vitality stadium, even though the results weren’t favourable to Ehiogu’s former side.
Meanwhile, in the FA cup semi-final game at the Wembley stadium between Spurs and Chelsea, a mosaic saying Ugo Ehiogu:1972 – 2017 was displayed, a nice touch showing support to the late defender.
Ehiogu’s last tweet was “Gave a homeless girl £10 last night in Dalston. She didn’t ask or beg. Random impulsive act from me. Not gona lie. Felt good. #dosomethingkind” which went viral, as it was a testament to the sort of person he was when he was alive.
Ugo Ehiogu was survived by his wife, Gemma, and their two children – son Obi Jackson and daughter Jodie.