By Harry Sykes
Tottenham’s academy players posted heartfelt Twitter tributes to Ugo Ehiogu following his death at the age of 44.
The White Hart Lane young guns took to social media to express their devastation and shock after Ehiogu died of a heart attack in the early hours of Friday.
Ehiogu was an immensely popular figure at Tottenham, where he had been the manager of the club’s Under-23s side for the last three years.
The former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender was responsible for nurturing and developing Spurs’ best young players, most of whom had emerged from within the ranks of their academy.
Centre-back Anton Walkes, 20, who is currently on loan at MLS side Atlanta, led the tributes as he explained on his personal Twitter account how he could not thank Ehiogu enough for the role in his development.
I’ll never be able to thank you enough for all the time you invested in me to become a better footballer and man… Rest in peace Ugo Ehiogu pic.twitter.com/omX17loKxF
— AW (@AntonWalkes) April 21, 2017
Winger Keanan Bennetts, 18, central midfielder Charlie Owens, 19, and attacking midfielder Samuel Shashoua, 18, also took to Twitter to express their devastation at losing such a huge influence in their lives and careers.
Given the players’ youth and the amount of time they spent with mentor and coach Ehiogu, in many ways they were the most poignant tributes yet to the man whose death has rocked football.
more than a coach, looked after me like I was one of ur own and gave me strength when Most needed; love u and will forever miss u, amen❤???????????? pic.twitter.com/fDPks1ls4B
— Keanan Bennetts (@kbennetts_11) April 21, 2017
— Charlie Owens (@charlie97owens) April 21, 2017
RIP Ugo, an amazing, genuine person who was always smiling and making others smile , you will be missed massively. Thanks for everything ❤️ pic.twitter.com/oB8kwfqiq9
— Samuel Shashoua (@Sam_shash) April 21, 2017
Ehiogu, who also played for Rangers, Sheffield United and Leeds in a stellar clear after graduating from the West Brom youth ranks, suffered a cardiac arrest at the club’s Enfield training ground on Thursday morning.
The former England international, who played four times for the country, will be remembered as one of the outstanding Premier League defenders of his era.
He spent his peak years at Villa, where he made 248 of his 429 club appearances and is widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs to have ever played for the club.
He formed an outstanding defensive partnership with current England manager Gareth Southgate.
Ehiogu was appointed coach of Tottenham’s Under-21s in the summer of 2014 after a short spell working part-time at the club’s academy.
The Under-21s has since been rebranded as the Under-23s and they play in Premier League 2, which is the development league for players aspiring to make the step up to professional first-team football.
In other Tottenham news, the club have sensationally terminated the contract of one of their defenders.