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Former England manager Graham Taylor dies aged 72

Tributes are being paid to one of the nicest and most knowledgeable figures in football.

Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

FORMER ENGLAND AND Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor has died at the age of 72.

“With the greatest sadness, we have to announce that Graham passed away at his home early this morning of a suspected heart attack,” a statement from the Taylor family read.

“The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss.”

After leaving Villa at the end of the 2002-03 season, Taylor served as chairman of Watford from 2009 until 2012 and appeared regularly as a pundit on radio and TV in recent years.

Taylor replaced Bobby Robson as England manager in 1990 and guided the Three Lions to the 1992 European Championships. He resigned a year later after England failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

But it was at club level where he enjoyed most success after making his name in management with Watford and then Villa.

He guided Villa to Division One promotion in the late 1980s and under his guidance, the Midlands club finished runners-up in the top-flight in 1990.

The former Grimsby Town and Lincoln City player returned to management with Wolves and took in second spells with Watford and Aston Villa, leaving the latter in 2003 before maintaining his involvement in football through punditry work.

The news of his death drew a shocked reaction as stars paid tribute to one of the English game’s most memorable characters.

“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,” former England captain Alan Shearer tweeted.

Dion Dublin played for Taylor in the manager’s second spell at Aston Villa and admitted he learnt a lot under his guidance.

“I am completely shocked. I only saw him a couple of months ago,” Dublin told the BBC.

Crystal Palace v Watford - Emirates FA Cup - Semi-Final - Wembley Stadium Source: PA Archive/PA Images

“He was a very, very, funny man. When I played under him at Aston Villa he taught me so much.

“He was very understanding of people’s situation. He had my utmost respect and was a pal as well as a manager. It is quite devastating news.”

A message on the Football Association’s official Twitter account read: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former England manager Graham Taylor.”

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Ryan Bailey

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