Everton Football Club is deeply saddened at the passing of former England defender Ugo Ehiogu at the age of 44.
The Tottenham Under-23s coach suffered a cardiac arrest at Spurs’ training ground on Thursday, and he died in hospital on Friday morning.
Tributes have been paid by Evertonians to the ex-Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Rangers centre-back.
Blues midfielder Gareth Barry played with Ehiogu at Villa from 1998-2000, and praised his influence both on and off the pitch.
He said: “I’m really sad to hear this morning he’s passed away. He’s someone who was always so fit and I’m deeply saddened.
“I was at Villa with Ugo and he always had a lot of time for young players coming through. He was a massive character and a general all-round nice guy.
“He was always working hard and wanting to improve and, as a young player at Aston Villa, he helped me understand what was needed to become a good professional. He was a great teammate.
“He was an incredible defender, a man mountain. You didn’t see too many players get past him with speed or power. He was a fantastic player, massively underrated.
“For the size of the man, he was a gentle giant. He gave everyone time on and off the pitch. My abiding memory of him is that he was a fantastic guy.”
Everton Under-23 coach David Unsworth spoke to Ehiogu at Goodison Park last week when the young Blues took on Spurs Under-23s.
He also came up against his fellow defender during their playing days, and said the thoughts of everyone at Everton are with Ehiogu’s family and friends during this sad time.
“I knew him for a long, long time and only spoke with him last week when we played his Spurs U23 side,” said Unsworth.
“We are totally, totally devastated. I had some great battles with Ugo on the pitch, and then again as coaches of our U23 teams.
“We had a great chat last week and he was really happy with his Spurs side. He was a good coach, doing terrific work. He was also a top, top defender. I know Joe Royle tried to bring him to Everton when he was manager.
“It just doesn’t seem right. When you look at him, he was a man mountain but a gentle giant. Myself, our U23s and on behalf of everyone at Everton, we pass on our condolences to his family and loved ones.”