LONDON • Graham Taylor, the former manager of the England national football team, died yesterday aged 72 following a suspected heart attack.
Taylor, whose playing career took him to Grimsby and Lincoln, managed England during a turbulent spell from 1990 to 1993, and also had two stints in charge at Aston Villa and Watford, as well as managerial tenures at Wolves and Lincoln. In recent years he had worked as a pundit on the BBC and BT Sport.
A family statement said: "The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss."
The Football Association tweeted: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former England manager Graham Taylor."
A statement from the Football League said: "We are extremely saddened to hear Graham Taylor has passed away. A genuine legend of the game. Our thoughts are with his family."
Taylor led Watford and then Aston Villa to the runners-up spot in the old First Division, establishing himself as one of the brightest managerial minds of his generation.
He appeared to have landed his dream job when he took over Bobby Robson as England manager in 1990, but he endured a difficult time in charge, with criticism about his perceived long-ball game.
However, under his leadership England qualified for Euro 92 in Sweden.
The tournament was a tough one for both team and manager. His side failed to get out of their group and Taylor also substituted Gary Lineker, in the final group game when a goal was needed, in what proved to be the striker's final game for England.
Taylor kept his job, but failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the United States led to his resignation in November 1993.
That difficult period, which saw Taylor harshly lampooned by tabloid newspapers, could not detract from the respect he was held in across the football world.
One of Taylor's former England players, Alan Shearer, tweeted his own tribute: "Completely shocked by news of Graham Taylor. Always held him in the very highest regard - the man who gave me my first @england cap. So sad."
Dion Dublin played for Taylor in the manager's second spell at Aston Villa and admitted he learnt a lot under his guidance.
"I am completely shocked. I only saw him a couple of months ago," he told the BBC. "He was a very, very, funny man. When I played under him at Aston Villa, he taught me so much."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE