Gareth Southgate has paid tribute to former team-mate Ugo Ehiogu
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 22/04/17 12:42pm
England manager Gareth Southgate has paid tribute to Ugo Ehiogu and spoken of the "true partnership" he shared with his former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough team-mate.
Ehiogu, who was working as an U23 coach at Tottenham, was rushed to hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest on Thursday and a statement from Spurs on Friday announced the 44-year-old had passed away "in the early hours of this morning".
Southgate and Ehiogu enjoyed a successful playing partnership in central defence at Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, helping both sides to League Cup triumphs, and the England boss released a statement saying he was devastated by the passing of a man he called a "colossus on the pitch".
He said: "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 him.
"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 though the coaching pathway with that thirst for learning."
Southgate revealed he had been in contact with former colleagues and team-mates on Friday and spoke of their "disbelief" at the news.
"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," he said.
"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."