England manager Gareth Southgate described his long-time friend and team-mate Ugo Ehiogu as “a gentleman” and “a credit to football” after his death at the age of 44.
Ehiogu collapsed at Tottenham’s training centre, where he worked as the club’s under-23 coach, on Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest and his death was announced on Friday morning.
Southgate had a close bond with Ehiogu, having shared defensive duties with him at Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and England and the pair won two League Cups together in 1996 and 2004.
A shocked Southgate offered fulsome praise for Ehiogu’s personal and professional qualities in a statement released by the Football Association.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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.”