Tottenham Hotspur have announced with great sadness that their under-23 coach, Ugo Ehiogu, passed away in the early hours of this morning after suffering a cardiac arrest at the club’s training ground on Thursday.
The sense of disbelief at how an ostensibly fit 44-year-old has been taken away is palpable and the Tottenham head of development, John McDermott, did his best to articulate it.
“Words cannot express the shock and sadness that we all feel at the club,” McDermott said. “Ugo’s presence will be irreplaceable. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife, Gemma, and his family.”
The former England and Aston Villa defender was on the training field on Thursday morning when he collapsed. Tottenham’s medics rushed to treat him while an ambulance and a medical assistance car were scrambled to him at 11.30am.
They sped into the club’s Enfield training centre, blue lights flashing, and the ambulance took Ehiogu off to hospital about 20 minutes later. The high level of concern was etched across the faces of every member of staff.
It was immediately plain that Ehiogo faced a life or death battle. The Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino, the assistant manager, Jesús Pérez, and McDermott had walked over to the academy fields to make their own checks on the situation.
Ehiogu received round-the-clock treatment at the hospital but he could not be saved. Tottenham said in a statement: “The club sends its deep condolences to Ugo’s family. Gemma has specifically asked that the family are given privacy at this difficult time.
We should also like to place on record our thanks to all the medical professionals including those at North Middlesex University Hospital, Royal Brompton Hospital and Harefield Hospital for their care and support.”
Ehiogu began his career as a trainee at West Bromwich Albion before he was taken to Villa by Ron Atkinson in 1991. He went on to feature in more than 300 matches for Villa and played in their FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea in 2000.
Ehiogu joined Middlesbrough for a then club-record £8m fee later that year and in 2001 he scored his only goal for England in Sven Goran-Eriksson’s first game in charge, a 3-0 friendly victory against Spain.