Gareth Southgate and Alex Ferguson lead tributes to Ray Wilkins

Gareth Southgate and Alex Ferguson lead tributes to Ray Wilkins
Gareth Southgate.

England manager Gareth Southgate and former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson led the tributes to Ray Wilkins following his death at the age of 61.

The former England midfielder, who won 84 caps, died in hospital yesterday morning following a cardiac arrest last Friday.

The former England midfielder Ray Wilkinson 84 caps, died in hospital yesterday morning following a cardiac arrest last Friday.
The former England midfielder Ray Wilkinson 84 caps, died in hospital yesterday morning following a cardiac arrest last Friday.

Chelsea, where Wilkins began his career and captained the side as a teenager, plan tributes to their former midfielder ahead of the home Premier League match against West Ham on Sunday.

Southgate was a youngster at Crystal Palace when Wilkins - known in the game by his childhood nickname 'Butch' - took on a player-coach role in 1994.

Now preparing to lead the England senior team into the 2018 World Cup finals, Southgate recalled the impact Wilkins had on the squad at Selhurst Park.

"I'll always remember the humility that he had, coming into that dressing room, having played for Manchester United, AC Milan, PSG and being a multiple-capped player for England. He just fitted into the group so easily and had the complete respect of everybody," Southgate told www.thefa.com.

"I felt privileged to play with him and even though he only joined us for a six-month period, he was a really good influence on all of the guys there at the time and he had a big influence on me in terms of his professionalism and outlook on training - and he's always kept in touch. He was one of the great English midfielders."

Alex Ferguson.
Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson, speaking as a board member of the League Managers Association said: "Ray was a great football man, who was well respected and liked by all who knew him and he always had a kind word and time for people.

Ray was an impressive football talent and had a fantastic career representing some of the biggest clubs. As a manager, Ray was so popular amongst his LMA colleagues and I know that he will be missed by us all.

Wilkins, who in recent years battled alcohol issues and health problems with ulcerative colitis, had carried out media duties on talkSPORT and Sky Sports - he was a regular pundit on both platforms - shortly before suffering the cardiac arrest.

Wilkins turned professional at 17 and spent six years at Chelsea before moving on to Manchester United, where he made more than 150 appearances. He then headed abroad, joining AC Milan, and spent three seasons in Serie A.

Gareth Southgate and Alex Ferguson lead tributes to Ray Wilkins

Legendary Rossoneri captain Franco Baresi paid tribute to Wilkins ahead of the Milan derby on Wednesday, laying flowers and a shirt baring the Englishman's name behind one of the goals at San Siro.

Wilkins went on to play for Paris St Germain, Rangers and QPR among others before going into coaching and had numerous spells on the staff at Stamford Bridge, including a brief stint as caretaker manager.

A statement from Chelsea read: "Everybody associated with Chelsea Football Club is devastated to learn of the passing of our former player, captain and assistant coach, Ray Wilkins. Rest in peace, Ray, you will be dreadfully missed."

- PA

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