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21st Apr 2017

Gareth Southgate pays a moving tribute to Ugo Ehiogu

'Most importantly, he was a gentleman'

Simon Lloyd

England manager Gareth Southgate has penned a tribute to former teammate Ugo Ehiogu, who passed away on Friday morning at the age of 44.

Southgate first played alongside Ehiogu during their time at Aston Villa with the pair going on to represent the national team together. They were also reunited at club level when Southgate followed Ehiogu to Middlesbrough in 2001.

As part of the Tottenham coaching staff, Ehiogu also spoke to Southgate as recently as last month when the England team used the north London club’s training facilities.

Southgate stressed that while he was a ‘colossus’ on the field of play, most importantly, he was a ‘gentleman’ away from it. He closes the statement by saying that his former teammate was a credit to football and his family, adding that he will be missed by all that knew him.

The full statement from Southgate, which was shared by the FA, can be read in full below:

‘I’m stunned and deeply saddened by Ugo’s passing and clearly my initial thoughts are with his wife Gemma, his children and his family.

I know that football will be grieving because he was so highly respected by everybody he worked with and losing him at such a young age is difficult to come to terms with.

Most importantly, he was a gentleman and he is one of those characters that people would find it difficult to have anything bad to say about.  

I probably played more games with Ugo than anybody else in my career and, while in many ways he was a gentle giant away from football, he was a colossus on the pitch. It felt like a true partnership with Ugo because we were prepared to put our bodies on the line for each other.

We shared highs, lows and won a couple of trophies together with Villa and Boro and it’s those memories that I will always cherish when I think of Ugo. 

He was one of the most professional people I played with in terms of how he applied himself to his job and it was great to see him progressing through the coaching pathway with that thirst for learning. 

I’ve spoken to several of our former team-mates today and there’s just a sense of disbelief that we’re having these conversations.

Ugo was a credit to football, a credit to his family and he will be missed by everybody who was lucky enough to know him.’