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Ugo Ehiogu: England boss Gareth Southgate says former teammate was 'colossus on the pitch'

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England boss Gareth Southgate has paid tribute to Ugo Ehiogu, describing his former Villa team-mate as a "colossus on the pitch".

Southgate partnered Ehiogu, who died on Friday at the age of just 44, in Villa's defence for five seasons between 1995 and 2000.

Both were integral parts of the team which won the League Cup in 1996, a competition they won again eight years later after being reunited at Middlesbrough.

"I'm stunned and deeply saddened by Ugo's passing and clearly my initial thoughts are with his wife Gemma, his children and his family," said Southgate.

"I know that football will be grieving because he was so highly respected by everybody he worked with and losing him at such a young age is difficult to come to terms with.

"Most importantly, he was a gentleman and he is one of those characters that people would find it difficult to have anything bad to say about."

Ehiogu, who retired in 2009, made more than 300 appearances for Villa in nearly a decade with the club.

He had recently been working as Tottenham's under-23 coach. He was taken to hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest on Thursday and passed away on Friday morning.

"I probably played more games with Ugo than anybody else in my career," said Southgate. "While in many ways he was a gentle giant away from football, he was a colossus on the pitch. It felt like a true partnership with Ugo because we were prepared to put our bodies on the line for each other.

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"We shared highs, lows and won a couple of trophies together with Villa and Boro and it's those memories that I will always cherish when I think of Ugo.

"He was one of the most professional people I played with in terms of how he applied himself to his job and it was great to see him progressing through the coaching pathway with that thirst for learning.

I've spoken to several former team-mates and there's just a sense of disbelief that we're having these conversations.

"Ugo was a credit to football, a credit to his family. He will be missed by everybody lucky enough to know him."

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