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updated: 4/21/2017 10:30 AM

Ex-England defender Ugo Ehiogu dies at 44

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  • FILE - This Aug. 26, 2010 file photo shows Ugo Ehiogu in Birmingham, England. Ugo Ehiogu, the former England defender who was a coach of Tottenham’s under-23 team, died Friday April 21, 2017, after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 44. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)

    FILE - This Aug. 26, 2010 file photo shows Ugo Ehiogu in Birmingham, England. Ugo Ehiogu, the former England defender who was a coach of Tottenham’s under-23 team, died Friday April 21, 2017, after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 44. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)
    Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Thursday March 23, 2006 file photo, Middlesbrough's Ugo Ehiogu controls the ball during the English FA Cup sixth round soccer match against Charlton Athletic at the Valley stadium, London. Ugo Ehiogu, the former England defender who was a coach of Tottenham’s under-23 team, died Friday April 21, 2017, after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 44.

    FILE - In this Thursday March 23, 2006 file photo, Middlesbrough's Ugo Ehiogu controls the ball during the English FA Cup sixth round soccer match against Charlton Athletic at the Valley stadium, London. Ugo Ehiogu, the former England defender who was a coach of Tottenham’s under-23 team, died Friday April 21, 2017, after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 44.
    Associated Press

 
 

LONDON -- Ugo Ehiogu, the former England defender who was a coach of the Tottenham Under-23s, died on Friday from cardiac arrest. He was 44.

The English Premier League club announced the death of Ehiogu a day after he was taken to a hospital after collapsing at Tottenham's training ground.

"Words cannot express the shock and sadness that we all feel at the club," said John McDermott, Tottenham's head of coaching and player development. "Ugo's immense presence will be irreplaceable."

Ehiogu, a tall, athletic and elegant center back, played for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, making 355 Premier League appearances in total, and was capped by England four times, scoring once against Spain.

"We're devastated to hear the news that Ugo Ehiogu has passed away," the English Football Association said in a statement. "Our thoughts and sympathies are with all lucky enough to know him."

The current England manager, Gareth Southgate, played alongside Ehiogu at center back for Villa for five years.

"He was a gentleman and he is one of those characters that people would find it difficult to have anything bad to say about," Southgate said in an emotional personal tribute.

"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."

Tottenham said Ehiogu, who had been on the coaching staff since 2014, received immediate treatment after collapsing on Thursday afternoon. Medical professionals from three hospitals supported Ehiogu.

Ehiogu began his career as a trainee at West Bromwich Albion before he joined Villa in 1991. He played more than 300 matches for Villa, including its FA Cup final loss to Chelsea in 2000.

He joined Middlesbrough for a then club-record fee of 8 million pounds in 2000, but injuries affected his career at the Riverside Stadium.

Ehiogu had spells at Leeds, Rangers, and Sheffield United before retiring in 2009, and he remained a popular figure in the English game as he went into coaching.

Villa will hold a minute's applause before their second-tier League Championship match against Birmingham on Sunday, with both sets of players to wear black armbands.

The same tribute will be paid at Tottenham's FA Cup semifinal match against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

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