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Published: 13:47 | 21/4/17

Ugo Ehiogu passes away aged 44

Former England and Aston Villa defender Ugo Ehiogu has passed away aged 44.

Tottenham's Under-23 coach suffered a cardiac arrest at the club's training ground on Thursday and a statement confirmed he died in the early hours of Friday.

"It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing of Ugo Ehiogu, our Under-23 coach," the statement read. 

"Ugo received immediate treatment after suffering a cardiac arrest at the Training Centre yesterday before being transferred to hospital, where he passed away in the early hours of this morning.

"Head of Coaching and Player Development John McDermott said: "Words cannot express the shock and sadness that we all feel at the Club. Ugo's immense presence will be irreplaceable. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Gemma and his family."

"The Club sends its deepest condolences to Ugo's family."

Ehiogu began his career at the West Brom academy before turning professional in 1989 but after just two appearances for the Baggies he was bought by Aston Villa in August 1991, going on to make 237 league appearances for the club between 1991 and 2000.

He then moved to Middlesbrough where he spent seven years, making 126 league appearances, before enjoying spells at Rangers and Sheffield United.

At international level, Ehiogu made his England debut against China in 1996 with his only goal coming in the friendly against Spain in February 2001.

Following his retirement, Ehiogu moved into coaching, working with Peter Taylor at the u20 World Cup before joining the Tottenham Academy in July 2014. 

Ehiogu's former club Aston Villa expressed sadness at the news of his passing.

"We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of our former defender Ugo Ehiogu," the club said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this terribly sad time.

"We will be holding a minute's applause before our derby with @BCFC.Both sets of players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect." 

Former Villa boss Ron Atkinson, who brought Ehiogu to the club in 1991, paid tribute to the former defender, saying: "It is a complete shock. He was a big physical specimen, a strong man. You realise that can happen to anyone.

"He was a defender that liked defending, he loved a full-blooded challenge.

"He didn't have the best of starts for Villa and made a couple of blunders against Norwich that cost us the result, and it took him a long time to live that down. But he showed character and developed into a centre-half who would have got a lot of England caps but for injury." 

Munster will face last year's winners Saracens in the European Champions Cup semi-final at the Aviva Stadium  on April 22 exclusively live on BT Sport, part of the eir Sport pack.

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