FRIENDS and family of the late Ugo Ehiogu came together to say their final farewells to the ex-England defender in an emotional service today.
The former Tottenham Under-23 coach tragically passed away last month after suffering a fatal heart attack at Spurs’ training centre.
A popular figure within the game and among fans, East London-born Ehiogu began his playing career at West Brom before Ron Atkinson signed him for Midland rivals Aston Villa for £40,000 in 1991.
He was part of the Villa side that won the 1996 League Cup in a 3-0 victory over Leeds.
Ehiogu then became Middlesbrough’s most expensive ever signing when he completed a £8million move to the Riverside in 2000.
He then enjoyed spells at Leeds on-loan, Rangers and Sheffield United before hanging up his boots and moving into coaching.
But tragedy struck on Friday, April 21, when he suffered a heart attack at the Tottenham training ground.
He received instant medical treatment on site before being transferred to hospital where doctors were unable to save the 44-year-old.
He left behind his wife, Gemma, and their two children.
The service, which was attended by friends from the footballing world, was held at St Michael’s church, Highgate, North London on Wednesday.
England boss Gareth Southgate, who played alongside Ehiogu at Middlesbrough and Aston Villa was in attendance alongside former team-mate Andy Townsend and ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright.
Former Villa boss Ron Atkinson, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Darren Bent, Dion Dublin, Tim Sherwood and Les Ferdinand all paid their respects.
Tributes from across the footballing world were paid to Ehiogu following the announcement of his death.
His ex-club Aston Villa said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of our former defender Ugo Ehiogu.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this terribly sad time.”
Ex-England star Rio Ferdinand added: “Can’t believe the news that Ugo Ehiogu has passed away.
“Calm & warming vibe when in his company. My heart goes out to his family! #RIPUgo.”
And Leeds United, where he played six games on loan in the 2006/07 season, added: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of former #LUFC defender Ugo Ehiogu.
“Our thoughts are with all of his friends and family.”
His wife Gemma set up a fundraising page to form a charity in memory over husband.
Her initial target of £1,000 was quickly broken with over £23,000 worth of donations in memory of Ehiogu.
The charity was created to follow in the footsteps of Ehiogu’s dream of giving “every child equal opportunity to access and play football.”
Gemma wrote: “Ugo’s dream was to set up a charity that gives every child equal opportunity to access and play football. He had already put the wheels in motion.
“This fund will make his dream become a reality. We don’t have a set target every donation will help. Thank you, In memory of Ugo Ehiogu.”
The appeal was remarkably well received with Boro, Arsenal and Rangers all donating.
A message left by Middlesbrough on the just giving page read: “Ugo Ehiogu. One of our heroes. You will never be forgotten by Middlesbrough Football Club or the people of Teesside.”
To donate to the page visit: http://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ugoehiogu