Tottenham Hotspur have announced with great sadness that their under-23 coach, Ugo Ehiogu, passed away in the early hours of this morning after suffering a cardiac arrest at the club’s training ground on Thursday. The sense of disbelief at how an ostensibly fit 44-year-old has been taken away is palpable and the Tottenham head of development, John McDermott, did his best to articulate it. “Words cannot express the shock and sadness that we all feel at the club,” McDermott said. “Ugo’s presence will be irreplaceable. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife, Gemma, and his family.” The former England and Aston Villa defender was on the training field on Thursday morning when he collapsed. Tottenham’s medics rushed to treat him while an ambulance and a medical assistance car were scrambled to him at 11.30am. It was immediately plain that Ehiogu faced a life or death battle. The Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino, the assistant manager, Jesús Pérez, and McDermott had walked over to the academy fields to make their own checks on the situation. Ehiogu received round-the-clock treatment at the hospital but he could not be saved. Tottenham said in a statement: “The club sends its deep condolences to Ugo’s family. Gemma has specifically asked that the family are given privacy at this difficult time. We should also like to place on record our thanks to all the medical professionals including those at North Middlesex University Hospital, Royal Brompton Hospital and Harefield Hospital for their care and support.” Tributes have poured in from all over football. Ehiogu’s former Villa team-mate Lee Hendrie told Sky Sports News: “Ugo was such a character. He has always been that bubbly character. He was just a great guy to have around.” Current Villa manager Steve Bruce also paid tribute to Ehiogu, describing the centre-back as a “bargain” signing by former Villa Park boss Ron Atkinson in 1991. “I played against him. Big Ron bought him for 45,000 – what a bargain. He was a great player.” a 3-0 friendly victory against Spain. Knee injuries plagued the final years of Ehiogu’s career at the Riverside Stadium. He joined Leeds United on loan in 2006 and also had short spells with Rangers and Sheffield United before he retired from football in 2009. Ehiogu subsequently moved into coaching and had been with Tottenham for the past three seasons. Before pursuing a coaching career Ehiogu followed his other passion, helping to set up record label Dirty Hit, which boasts artists such as The 1975, Ben Khan, Superfood, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Fossil Collective. In 2010, he told Skysports.com: “I miss parts of football, I miss the banter, but I was lucky enough to have 20 years of playing and that was enough of training, playing and the discipline. It had taken its toll and my mind and my body were ready for a break.
Gave a homeless girl £10 last night in Dalston.She didn’t ask or beg.Random impulsive act from me. Not gona lie. Felt good. #dosomethingkind— Ugo Ehiogu (@UgoEhiogu) March 29, 2017
“If you come to watch games at Tottenham – in particular at development level – you will notice how we try to play, in a certain way with a certain style,” he said in a 2013 column for the Daily Mail. “My hope is to see an England team that tries to play flowing interchangeable football, that can mix it with the best teams through physique and technique. It’s the way forward.” One of his final tweets illustrated Ehiogu’s kind nature. “Gave a homeless girl £10 last night in Dalston. She didn’t ask or beg. Random impulsive act from me. Not gona lie. Felt good. #dosomethingkind”. The #dosomethingkind hashtag has since been trending on Twitter, with many people making generous gestures in the former footballer’s memory. Ehiogu leaves behind his wife, Gemma, and a son.