The former England manager Graham Taylor has died aged 72 following a suspected heart attack.
Taylor, whose playing career took him to Grimsby Town and Lincoln City, managed England during a turbulent spell from 1990 until 1993 and also had two spells in charge at Aston Villa and Watford, as well as managerial tenures at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Lincoln. In recent years he had worked as a pundit on the BBC and BT Sport.
“With the greatest sadness, we have to announce that Graham passed away at his home early this morning of a suspected heart attack,” read a family statement.
“The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss.”
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former England manager Graham Taylor,” tweeted the Football Association.
A statement from the Football League added: “We are extremely saddened to hear Graham Taylor has passed away. A genuine legend of the game. Our thoughts are with his family.”
A tweet from Watford, who Taylor led from the fourth to the first division in only five years, as well as to the 1984 FA Cup final, read: “Everyone at #watfordfc is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our most successful manager. We love you, Graham Taylor. #thankyouGT”
Sir Elton John, the former Watford owner and honorary life president, paid tribute to Taylor in a message posted on Instagram.
“He was like a brother to me,” he said.
“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 unchartered territory and into Europe.”
Difficult time as England manager
Taylor endured a difficult time in charge of the national team, with criticism about his perceived long-ball game.
However under his leadership England qualified for Euro 92 in Sweden.
The tournament was a tough one for England and their manager.
His side failed to get out of their group and Taylor also substituted Gary Lineker, in the final group game when a goal was needed, in what proved to be the striker’s final game for England.
Taylor kept his job, but failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the United States led to his resignation in November 1993.
One of Taylor’s former England players Alan Shearer tweeted his own tribute: “Completely shocked by news of Graham Taylor. Always held him in the very highest regard – the man who gave me my first @england cap. So sad.”
A tweet from the League Managers Assciation, which Taylor served as president, read: “The LMA is deeply saddened to hear that former England Manager & the first President of the LMA Graham Taylor OBE has died at the age of 72.”
A statement from Villa read: “Aston Villa Football Club are deeply saddened by news today of the death of our former manager Graham Taylor. Graham joined us from Watford in the summer of 1987 and set about transforming our fortunes following relegation to the old Second Division. By the end of his first season, Villa were back in the First Division, clinching promotion as runners-up to Millwall. Getting to the top-flight was one thing, staying there was another but we managed just that the following campaign – with much better times on the horizon.
“With the addition of Paul McGrath and Kent Nielsen, we finished as runners-up to Liverpool and reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Unfortunately there was a price to pay – Taylor’s achievements brought him to the attention of the Football Association, who were looking for a replacement for Bobby Robson after the 1990 World Cup finals. Doug Ellis reluctantly let him go although chairman and manager were reunited 11 years later.
“When John Gregory left in January 2002, Taylor became the first Villa manager to be appointed for a second time, although that spell only lasted for one season. Graham will always have a place of honour in our history books for his achievements while at the helm – and our thoughts go out to his family and friends as this sad time.” – Guardian