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Former England soccer manager Taylor dies

Press Association logoPress Association 12/01/2017

Former England soccer manager Graham Taylor has died. He was 72.

A family statement on Thursday 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.

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."

Taylor began his career in soccer as a player with Grimsby before having a spell with Lincoln and then moving into management with the latter club.

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.

Sir Elton John, Taylor's chairman at Watford, expressed his sadness via an Instagram post.

He wrote: "I am deeply saddened and shocked to hear about Graham's passing. He was like a brother to me. We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever.

"He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to unchartered territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius.

"This is a sad and dark day for Watford. The club and the town. We will cherish Graham and drown our sorrows in the many brilliant memories he gave us.

"I love you Graham. I will miss you very much.

"My thoughts go out to Rita, Joanne, Karen and the whole Taylor family. @watfordfcofficial #GrahamTaylor #RIP."

Taylor's achievements with the Hornets were remarkable. After taking charge in 1977, he led the club from the Fourth Division to the top tier.

They finished second in the First Division in 1983, qualifying for the UEFA Cup, and reached the FA Cup final the following year. He had a second spell at Vicarage Road from 1996 to 2001.

Gordon Taylor, a playing contemporary and chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association since 1981, told BBC Radio Five Live: "It's a real shock. He was a real gentleman. I've known him since we were both 15 at England schoolboy trials.

"It was sad the way that the England job turned out for him, but that's happened to a lot of England managers.

"He was a real quality human being. He cared about his fellow professionals and the good of the game. He should be remembered as a man who added to the game, who really showed his ability as a manager."

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