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Ugo Ehiogu dead: Paul Merson breaks into tears while making emotional tribute to former England defender

The Independent logo The Independent 2 days ago Mark Critchley

A tearful Paul Merson paid an emotional tribute to his ex-team-mate Ugo Ehiogu, the former England defender who passed away in the early hours of Friday morning.

Ehiogu was rushed to hospital on Thursday after suffering a heart attack at Tottenham Hotspur's training ground, where he worked as the north London club’s Under-23s coach.

Merson played alongside Ehiogu at Aston Villa between 1998 and 2000 and appeared on Sky Sports News following confirmation of Ehiogu’s tragic death, despite being visibly distraught.

“I’m still devastated,” said Merson. “He was such a top bloke it was unbelievable, he was a man mountain.

“You know what, Billy Joel sings about a song, ‘Only The Good Die Young’ and that is him. He was a top player, top bloke and a good friend as well.

“I talked to him recently. He was always winding me up saying: ‘Tottenham have got some good players coming through.' It goes out for his family and everything. It’s hard.”

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Ehiogu represented Aston Villa on 308 occasions during a nine-year spell at the club between 1991 and 2000, after signing for the west Midlands club from West Bromwich Albion.

The Homerton-born defender made his international debut in May 1996, during the build-up to England’s hosting of that summer’s European Championships, but failed to make the cut for Terry Venables’ final tournament squad.

Ehiogu, who won four international caps in total, scored his only England goal in a friendly against Spain in February 2001 during Sven Goran Eriksson’s tenure with the national team.

By then, Ehiogu had joined Middlesbrough for a club record fee of £8million. He went on to spend seven years on Teesside, making a total of 153 appearances.

After leaving Boro, Ehiogu represented Rangers and Sheffield United before hanging up his boots in 2009.

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