Former England footballer Ugo Ehiogu was given an emotional farewell today after his death aged just 44.
He suffered cardiac arrest last month and passed away the following day, shocking the sports world.
England boss Gareth Southgate was close to tears as he paid a final farewell to his former teammate today.
Some of the biggest names in football gathered to pay their respects to the former England international.
Highly respected Ehiogu played defence for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough, helping both sides to League Cup triumphs.
He worked as a coach with Tottenham’s Under 23 squad when he died.
The England manager was joined by former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright, as well as several former team-mates – including Dwight Yorke, who was best man at his wedding, Dion Dublin and Andy Townsend.
A huge crowd, including Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, wearing black was seen entering St Michael’s church in Highgate, north London, at 11.30am for an hour-long service to remember the ‘gentle giant’.
Ehiogu, who was born in Hackney, east London, enjoyed a glittering 20 year career in the Premiership as a centre back, and earned four England caps.
He collapsed at Tottenham’s training ground in April and later died in hospital leaving behind his wife Gemma and two children.
Following today’s service Ugo was brought to Highgate Cemetery in a black hearse with “Our Friend” in flowers on top.
Those attending included Spurs legend and former captain Gary Mabbutt, former Villa skipper Andy Townsend and ex Villa and West Brom boss Ron Atkinson.
Southgate gave a eulogy as well as head of the footballers’ union Gordon Taylor.
Following the service Spurs players and others left in coaches.
Southgate appeared devastated and was too upset to speak after the service.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was not in attendance, but is thought to be attending the wake which is to take place at Alexandra Palace.
Ex villa striker Dwight Yorke, who was among the congregation at the funeral, said: ‘He was an amazing husband to Gemma and a great dad.
‘I knew Ugo for a number of years, and had the pleasure of playing with him and was the best man at his wedding.
‘It’s just such a sad loss, we shared a lot of stuff together and he will always be remembered.
‘He will always be part of me.’
Gary Mabbutt said: ‘It came across just how well respected he is, it is very sad.
‘I was only with him a couple of days before, and he was looking very fit and very well.
‘It was a lovely service.’
Legendary former Spurs and Arsenal goalkeeper Pat Jennings said: ‘He was a lovely bloke, an absolute gent.
‘It was a brilliant service: what a send off. It’s just sad, a terrible day for his family.’
Fighting back tears, Dion Dublin, who also played with Ugo at Villa, said: ‘If the word professional footballer or the words ‘how to do your job’ came up, then his name would be there.
‘He did it right; as a father, as a parent, he did it right. You can’t fault him.’
( Story Metro.co.uk)