Former England International Ugo Ehiogu Dies at Age 44

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2017

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05:  Ugo Ehiogu, coach of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the Premier League 2 match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on February 5, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Former England and Aston Villa defender Ugo Ehiogu has died at the age of 44 after collapsing at Tottenham Hotspur's training centre on Thursday following a cardiac arrest.

The four-times capped England international was working with Tottenham as coach of their under-23 team at the time of his death, and the club released a statement on Friday:

England's national team also marked the death of the Premier League veteran, who made a handful of appearances for the Three Lions between 1996 and 2002:

Ehiogu was highly regarded as a Premier League talent in his prime and featured for almost two decades among England's top two divisions, making his senior debut at West Bromwich Albion in 1989.

The centre-back went on to make 355 Premier League appearances, per Transfermarkt, which were split between his spells at Villa (229) and Middlesbrough (126).

It was in 2014 that Ehiogu found a second calling after joining Tottenham's academy on a short-term basis, eventually taking over their under-21 team, which became the under-23s with the introduction of the PL2 competition.

Ehiogu was also responsible for one of the most memorable Rangers goals to have emerged from an Old Firm derby thanks to his overhead kick effort as part of a 1-0 victory in March 2007, per the Mirror's Thomas Bristow:

That strike was so much more memorable considering Ehiogu was already approaching the end of his career and ultimately played just nine matches for Rangers, although his impact was a big one.

Former Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer won the League Cup with Ehiogu in 2004, and he paid tribute to his old team-mate during an appearance on BBC Radio 5 live Sport (h/t BBC Sport):

I can't fathom he's no longer here. He was a tremendous person, a tremendous character, a dedicated footballer and dedicated to his family. He was a great guy to be around, so full of life and so enthusiastic.

As a centre-back, I rate him right up there. He suffered from injuries throughout his career, but with more consistency he could have added to his England caps. He was very much a family man and it's such a shame to leave such a young family behind.

It also affected Ehiogu's England chances that he happened to emerge as a contender alongside a very talented crop of centre-backs, including the likes of Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand and Boro team-mate Gareth Southgate.

Ehiogu was also just starting what looked to be a very promising career as a coach and timed his rise within Tottenham's academy alongside their first team's surge into Premier League title contention.