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  1. ITV Report

Ugo Ehiogu: England manager Gareth Southgate pays tribute to 'gentle giant'

Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate won the Carling Cup with Middlesbrough in 2004. Credit: PA

England manager Gareth Southgate has said he is "stunned and deeply saddened" by the death of his former teammate Ugo Ehiogu.

The 44-year-old died in the early hours of Friday after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Southgate and Ehiogu spent much of their club careers playing alongside each other in defence during spells at Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.

The England manager described Ehiogu as "a gentle giant away from football" and "a colossus on the pitch", saying he will "always cherish" the memories of playing alongside and winning trophies with him.

The world of football has been shocked by Ehiogu's death, with Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce, former teammate Mark Bosnich and Everton midfielder Gareth Barry among those paying tribute to him.

Ehiogu, who earned four caps for the national team, was the Under-23 coach at Tottenham.

He leaves behind his wife Gemma and a son.

  • Read England manager Gareth Southgate's tribute in full below:
Southgate and Ehiogu played together at Aston Villa. Credit: PA

I'm stunned and deeply saddened by Ugo's passing and clearly my initial thoughts are with his wife Gemma, his children and his family.

I know that football will be grieving because he was so highly respected by everybody he worked with and losing him at such a young age is difficult to come to terms with.

Most importantly, he was a gentleman and he is one of those characters that people would find it difficult to have anything bad to say about him.

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. It felt like a true partnership with Ugo because we were prepared to put our bodies on the line for each other .

We shared highs, lows and won a couple of trophies together with Villa and Boro and it's those memories that I will always cherish when I think of Ugo.

He was one of the most professional people I played with in terms of how he applied himself to his job and it was great to see him progressing though the coaching pathway with that thirst for learning.

I've spoken to several of our former teammates today and there's just a sense of disbelief that we're having these conversations.

Ugo was a credit to football, a credit to his family and he will be missed by everybody who was lucky enough to know him.

– Gareth Southgate