Ray of light extinguished

Ray Wilkins was only 18 when he became captain of Chelsea. He earned 84 England caps and played in two World Cups.
Ray Wilkins was only 18 when he became captain of Chelsea. He earned 84 England caps and played in two World Cups.

Tributes pour in for the former Chelsea, United and England midfield stalwart who dies at 61

LONDON • Former England midfielder Ray Wilkins yesterday died at the age of 61.

Wilkins, whose clubs included Chelsea, Manchester United, Queens Park Rangers and Paris Saint-Germain in a 24-year playing career that spanned three decades, fell ill after suffering a cardiac arrest last week and had been in a critical condition in St George's Hospital, in Tooting, south-west London.

"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," the English Premier League club said on Twitter.

Added the Professional Footballers' Association: "It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we have learnt that former England midfielder Ray Wilkins has passed away, aged 61.

"The thoughts and condolences of everyone at the PFA are with his family and friends."

A winner of 84 England caps, 10 of them as captain, Wilkins played at two World Cup Finals and he became the fourth player sent off for England when he was dismissed during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico in a game against Morocco.

Wilkins - known in the game by his childhood nickname "Butch" - is commonly associated with Chelsea, who he skippered at just 18.

In a 20-year coaching career, he also managed QPR, Fulham and the Jordan national team. He was also an assistant manager in two spells at Chelsea.

Former England striker Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter that no team-mate was as "helpful and supportive" as Wilkins.

"Deeply saddened to hear that Ray Wilkins has passed away," he said. "A wonderful footballer and a delightful man. It was a pleasure to have played alongside him with England."

AC Milan, for whom Wilkins made more than 70 appearances between 1984 and 1987, yesterday honoured him in the Serie A derby match against Inter Milan.

"Goodbye Ray, you will be missed: Tonight we're gonna fight like you taught us!" they said in a tweet.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand also offered his condolences and paid tribute to Wilkins.

"Always so humble and softly spoken whenever I saw him. Genuine lovely guy," he tweeted.

"Watched him... at Loftus Road many times for QPR. What a great passer and teacher of the game for any young kids who watched him."

Wilkins is survived by his wife Jackie and their two children and grandchildren.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2018, with the headline 'Ray of light extinguished'. Print Edition | Subscribe