Former England coach Graham Taylor dies at 72

Former England manager Graham Taylor has died, aged 72.

Taylor took charge at Villa following their relegation from the First Division in 1987 and restored them to the top flight at the first attempt.

Taylor also managed Aston Villa and led them to runners-up in Division One in the late 1980s.

Graham Taylor was hardly the first manager, and will not be the last, to find the leap from club to worldwide football too wide a gap. He left after three years following a disappointing run at Euro 1992 and a shaky start to the 1994 World Cup qualifiers.

Tonight he spoke to Off The Ball about Taylor and paid tribute to his former manager, who he described as a genuine and honest man, who he also worked with as a member of his backroom coaching staff in the 1990s.

Taylor earned legendary status at Watford for taking the team from the Fourth Division to second place in the First Division and a maiden European competition in just six seasons between 1977 and 1983. After the team had failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup (having reached the semi-finals under Bobby Robson four years earlier), Taylor featured in a TV documentary that recorded his agitated behaviour in the dug-out during a crucial match in the qualifying campaign.

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As his chapter ended as a football manager, Taylor rose to be a highly-respected pundit on BBC Radio 5 live, a role he performed with total assurance and perception.

James, who was given his professional debut at Watford by Taylor, tweeted: "I am saddened to hear the news that Graham Taylor has passed away".

But he added: "We parted on the best of terms with our very good wishes and I felt a great deal of sympathy for him".

Gascoigne was initially dropped by Taylor, which led critics of the manager to say he was unable to handle star players. I remember seeing him at Villa and they absolutely loved him - the people who are still there, the office people, you can't build that without respect. I'll be very surprised if you don't see big, powerful managers not coming out and speaking about Graham Taylor. "Our thoughts are with his family".

The club where he spent 15 years managing, Watford, will commemorate Taylor before their Premier League match against Middlesbrough on Saturday. "Graham took Watford through the divisions and to a famous FA Cup final before being released by Elton John to take the reins at Aston Villa".

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