Paul McGrath salutes gent and a hero Graham Taylor

He was famed as an England boss but any Irish players came under the wing of the late Graham Taylor during his long managerial career, with the legendary Paul McGrath leading the tributes to his former boss.

Paul McGrath salutes gent and a hero Graham Taylor

Robbie Keane and Tony Cascarino also worked with the 72-year-old, who passed away yesterday, while another former Ireland player he tried to sign after the 2002 World Cup, Matt Holland, shared punditry duties Taylor in recent years.

Keane was a teenager when he joined Taylor’s Wolves in 1995 but McGrath and Cascarino were in their prime playing under him at Villa.

McGrath needed a change of direction when Taylor rescued him from Manchester United in 1989, kickstarting a seven-year period at Villa Park which revived the Dubliner’s career. Much of that feat was attributed to the improved life-balance McGrath experienced in his new environment, a fact he was keen to emphasise yesterday upon hearing the sad news.

“Devastated to hear of Graham’s sad passing, what a gentleman,” McGrath tweeted. “In my darkest days, himself and (his wife) Rita were always there for me #RipGrahamAHero.”

Taylor splashed out a club record of £1.2m (€1.4m) in 1990 to recruit Cascarino from Millwall. Despite their time together being curtailed by England headhunting their new manager three months later, the player retained a height of respect for Taylor.

“Graham was a proper football man,” Cascarino told The Times. “He was very amicable, very diplomatic most of the time but if he lost it, he really lost it. Taylor could really give the players the hairdryer treatment — the glasses would come off and he would be frothing at the mouth.”

Keane said on Instagram: “Signed me as a 14 year old for Wolves — absolute gentleman sad day for football... RIP Graham Taylor.”

Watford manager Walter Mazzarri wants his side to beat Middlesbrough this weekend in tribute to Taylor.

The Hornets will pay tribute to the former England manager with a one-minute applause ahead of the Premier League clash against Middlesbrough at Vicarage Road.

“I think all the players that are here know, as I know, who Graham Taylor was,” said Mazzari. “Tomorrow I will make sure everyone knows and remind them this is another reason why we need to win against Middlesbrough — to be able to dedicate a great game to him and hopefully a win for such a great person and a symbol of the club.”

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