Tributes paid to ‘great guy’ Ugo Ehiogu in star-studded Highgate funeral
- Credit: PA
The England manager joined other mourners in Highgate today for the funeral of former Spurs footballer Ugo Ehiogu.
The onetime Aston Villa, England and Middlesbrough defender died of a heart attack at the age of 44 at Tottenham’s training ground on April 20.
His family and friends paid tribute to him at St Michael’s Church in South Grove before a wake at Alexandra Palace.
His former Middlesbrough teammates Paul Ince, George Boaten and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink joined Villa colleagues Andy Townshend, Dwight Yokre and Ian Taylor while former managers Ron Atkinson and Steve McClaren were also present.
England manager Gareth Southgate spoke fondly about Ehiogu’s “fussiness” in church.
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Tottenham were also represented by retired defender Ledley King and fellow former players Les Ferdinand, Tim Sherwood, Gary Mabbutt and Pat Jennings, in addition to numerous youth-team players and chairman Daniel Levy.
Little, who managed Ehiogu for four years at Villa until 1998, said: “Gareth Southgate spoke unbelievably well about him, about some of the funny things about him.
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“Ugo was very fussy with his food. Gareth hit on how he would order something off the menu, but he’d want it without that, without that, without that and without that and done a different way. And he did: he was very fussy about pre-match meals.
“He was just fussy; he wanted everything to be spot-on. That was a nice reminder, something that opened that little box in your brain. Gareth knows him better probably than most people. He spoke so wonderfully well about him.”
Yorke played in the same team as Ehiogu under Little, and he said: “It was an amazing occasion; this was a great send-off for him. He was an amazing footballer, but an amazing husband to Gemma and his son.
“To see so many people come out to pay their respects shows how touching it is for his family.
“He was a great guy. I’ve known Ugo for a number of years, and had the pleasure of playing with him, but my friendship goes beyond that.
“I was his best man at his wedding, so we shared a lot of personal stuff, and a lot of great memories about Ugo. It’s just such a sad loss for him to leave us at such an early stage.”
Dion Dublin replaced Yorke at Villa in 1998, playing alongside Ehiogu until the latter’s transfer to Middlesbrough in 2000, and Dublin fought back tears as he said: “I won’t make it (without crying).
“If the words were in the dictionary of how to do your job then his name would be in it, with a picture of Ugo’s face in it. On and off the field he did it right. As a father, as a parent, he did it right.
“The service was beautiful, as I expected. Ugo’s way. Done right, everything was on time, all the people he wanted there were there. I’ll miss him.”
The service took place at 11.30am, 15 minutes after the hearse – which displayed flowers reading “Our friend” – had arrived. Ehiogu’s family arrived at St Michael’s via a more private entrance.
After its conclusion, many of those in attendance – Lee Hendrie included – were taken by one of 12 coaches to Alexandra Palace.
Hendrie was a young midfielder who established himself at Villa while Ehiogu was one of the senior players, and he said: “It’s touched down that he’s actually gone. So sad in there. It was a fantastic service.
“It’s crazy, I just listened to Gareth talking about how Ugo was with his food, little things with the way Ugo was as a person. Everyone’s going to miss him.
“Standing in there seeing everyone so upset and the way it happened, everyone’s going to miss him.”