Former England manager Graham Taylor has died aged 72, a spokesman for the family has said.
A family statement said: “With the greatest sadness, we have to announce that Graham passed away at his home early this morning of a suspected heart attack. The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss.”
Taylor managed England from 1990 until 1993. He was a club manager at Lincoln, Watford, Aston Villa and Wolves, and in recent years a pundit on the BBC and BT Sport.
RIP Graham Taylor – great club manager who understood fans & shouldn't be defined by the England job. Warm,genuine people person & raconteur
— Pat Murphy (@patmurphybbc) January 12, 2017
Taylor had 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.
Devastated to hear the news Graham Taylor has passed away. Greatest influence on my career. My condolences to Rita and family ????????????
— Tony Daley MSc (@TonyDaley7) January 12, 2017
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 his former England players, Alan Shearer, was among the first to pay tribute.
Shearer tweeted: “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.”
The Football Association and the League Managers Association also offered their condolences.
The FA tweeted: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former @England manager Graham Taylor.”
— Watford FC (@WatfordFC) January 12, 2017
A tweet from the LMA, 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.”
Taylor began his career in football as a player with Grimsby before having a spell with Lincoln and then moving into management with the latter club.
A tweet from Grimsby read: “We are saddened to hear of the passing of former GTFC player & England manager, Graham Taylor. Our thoughts are with Graham’s family.”
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) January 12, 2017
Taylor took charge at Villa following their relegation from the First Division in 1987 and restored them to the top flight at the first attempt. Two years after that, in 1990, they finished runners-up to Liverpool in the First Division.
That achievement was instrumental in securing him the England position.
He later came out of managerial retirement to take charge of Villa for a second spell in 2002.
Very sad to hear the news about Graham Taylor. A @WatfordFC legend and an absolute gentleman ????????
— Ashley Young (@youngy18) January 12, 2017