Roy Hodgson was among those to pay tribute to Don Howe after the former England international passed away at the age of 80.
Howe, who as a full-back won 23 caps for England, has been hailed as one of the outstanding coaches of his generation and is fondly remembered for his spell in the backroom staff for the national side under Ron Greenwood, Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables.
He enjoyed a lengthy playing career in England with Arsenal and West Brom, before going on to manage both sides, and took charge at QPR and Turkish giants Galatasaray.
The current England manager paid an emotional tribute on the Football Association website to a man he described as an inspiration, a friend and a mentor.
“Today I lost a person who was all of those things to me and friends of my generation,” said Hodgson.
“I found myself privileged to say he befriended me and I think it is a great loss and I am very sad. I can only pass on my deepest condolences to his family.”
He added: “I think we were very fortunate growing up as young coaches to be able to take inspiration from Don, Sir Bobby Robson and Dave Sexton alongside him.
“I got to know Don quite well during my time in Sweden when he was at the Arsenal and I was able to come over at Christmas and spend time watching him work and, most importantly of all, picking his brains.
“He was absolutely one of the very best coaches I have ever come across in my life and, certainly in my opinion, one of the very best coaches England ever had.
“I shall miss him and he will always be remembered by people within the game as one of the true greats, one of the true legendary coaches. He was ahead of his time.
“He wasn’t just a great coach, he was a great human being.”
Arsenal tributes to Howe
Howe is recognised as having a great influence on two of the most successful England sides in recent times, working with both Robson and Venables as they reached the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup and the 1996 European Championship.
His reputation extended to his club career, where he coached Arsenal with distinction during a long association with the Highbury club.
Former Arsenal players Paul Merson and Charlie Nicholas also hailed him as one of the outstanding coaches of his time.
Talking to Sky Sports News, Merson said: “He was so far ahead of his time it was scary. You talk about the Wengers and people like that, he was the best coach in the world of football, not just in England in the world of football. He was a phenomenal, phenomenal coach.
“You won’t find anyone in the game that had a bad word to say about Don Howe. He was one of the nicest blokes I have ever met.”
Former striker Nicholas, who endured a difficult start to his Arsenal career before working closely with Howe, added: “I would toast Don, because he brings smile to my face. It wasn’t the easiest time when I first got to Arsenal but Don worked with me every day.
“His coaching sessions were absolutely fabulous, he didn’t waste his time.
“He could whistle rather than speak, but everybody knew what it meant and it was a wonderful thing. He was a smiler. He had a very straight face but there was a strong and funny personality under there.”
“I was getting criticism in the media, but Don was coming and putting an arm round me and when he said something it got your attention.
“I’m just sat here smiling, I have a really happy memory of the man.”
Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick added: “We were aware Don had been enduring a long battle with illness but it was still a shock to learn the news about someone who was loved by so many people at the club, and who had such a remarkable influence as a player, coach and manager here.
“Don possessed a marvellous ability to get the very best out of players with his coaching techniques and provide them with the perfect preparation for matches. He was the very best at what he did – and he did it with us, at Arsenal, for decade after decade.
“He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him and his name will live on in the history books as one of the most influential footballing figures in the history of the club.”
Tweets pour in for Howe
Tributes have also been paid on Twitter, with former England striker Gary Lineker, who was trained by Howe, saying: “Sad to see that Don Howe has passed away. It was a privilege to have known and been trained by him. A great coach and a lovely man. #RIP.”
Bobby Gould, who had Howe on his coaching staff when Wimbledon famously won the FA Cup in 1988, posted: “The loss of JH, then another soul mate Don Howe passes away. To Pauline & Family our thoughts are with U love Gouldy x.”
Another former England international Gary Neville added: “Just heard the sad news about Don Howe. An education being coached by him! Amazing attention to detail and knowledge of the game. RIP.”