Iconic former England football manager Graham Taylor dies aged 72
“With the greatest sadness, we have to announce that Graham passed away at his home early this morning of a suspected heart attack,” the statement read.
"The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss.”
Rest in peace, Graham.— England (@England) January 12, 2017
Our thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/jt4zFLTPRi
Born in Worksop in England’s East Midlands region, Taylor spent his playing career at Grimsby Town and Lincoln City, taking his first steps into management at the latter upon his retirement in 1972.
He then moved on to Watford in June 1977, being hired by owner and singing superstar Elton John. In just five years he fired the Hertfordshire club from the bottom tier of English football to the First Division. He acquired the talent of John Barnes from non-league football in the process, who formed a formidable striking partnership with Luther Blissett.
He led Watford to a second-place finish in their first ever season in the First Division in 1983 and a year later to an FA Cup Final, losing to Everton.
After a decade in charge at Vicarage Road, Taylor then moved on to Aston Villa, promoting the club in his first attempt and achieving another second-placed First Division finish, before taking the England job.
Taylor lost only one of his first 23 games as England boss and qualified for the 1992 European Championships, reaching the quarter-finals.
Taylor became the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary covering England’s ill-fated 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign, which has since gained cult status in England for Taylor’s catchphrases, including the now iconic “Do I not like that,” which gave the documentary its title.
When England failed to qualify for the tournament in the United States, Taylor resigned after three years in the hot seat.
Following a return to club management, Taylor briefly took over at Wolverhampton Wanderers before being appointed general manager at Watford by Elton John, who had bought the club for a second time.
Taylor guided Watford to the Premier League before taking over again at Aston Villa and then retiring in 2003.
On learning of his death, former England captain Alan Shearer tweeted, “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.”
FA Chairman Greg Dyke said in statement: "On behalf of everyone at The FA, I am saddened to hear this news. My thoughts are with Graham’s family and friends.
“He was a hugely popular and respected figure in the game, not just in English football but in international circles as well."
Elton John tweeted his sadness over the passing of Taylor, whom he likened to a brother.
I am deeply saddened and shocked to hear about Graham's passing. He was like a brother to me. I love you Graham. I will miss you very much. pic.twitter.com/FD8lEt7pQS— Elton John (@eltonofficial) January 12, 2017
A Watford FC club statement paid tribute to their club stalwart.
"The Hornets are deeply saddened to confirm the news that former manager and Honorary Life-President Graham Taylor OBE has died."
Watford FC chairman & CEO Scott Duxbury said: “As one, together as a club, we are all utterly devastated to learn of Graham’s passing.”