14 January, 2017
Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong paid a heartfelt tribute to his revered former club boss Graham Taylor following the sudden death yesterday of the ex-England manager from a suspected heart attack, aged 72. He earned three promotions, took them to second behind Bob Paisley's Liverpool in 1983 and then the FA Cup Final the following year - and Elton's Wembley tears - where they lost 2-0 to Everton.
FORMER England football manager Graham Taylor has died.
Taylor managed the feat of back-to-back promotions once again as he took the Hornets up via the play-offs the next season, although the team failed to cope with Premiership football, going straight back down to the First Division. He returned hungrier to prove his doubters wrong but without the sort of bitterness that so often characterised some of his contemporaries and indeed successors as England manager.
Those exploits landed him the England job, succeeding Bobby Robson after the national team's run to the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup. In his later years Taylor was a popular football pundit and television commentator.
"I am deeply saddened and shocked to hear about Graham's passing", Elton wrote.
"He was a very, very, amusing man". I am shocked, absolutely shocked.
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"The mark of him, for me, was standing away from that situation and allowing me as a young manager to actually go and learn without getting involved".
He had been given the job in 1990 not just on the basis of his superb work with Watford but because in his next job, with Aston Villa, he had performed nearly equally well in reviving the fortunes of a bunch of recently relegated and poorly motivated players.
What never came into doubt was Taylor's reputation as a true gentleman of the sport, as evidenced by the outpouring of affection from supporters, players, managerial peers and broadcasters over the last 24 hours.
He guided Aston Villa to second in the First Division, returning to Watford and Villa after his England stint as well as managing Wolves.
Taylor began his footballing career as a young player with Scunthorpe and also represented Grimsby and Lincoln before moving into management with the latter.
A previously unglamourous club languishing in the fourth tier when Taylor arrived from Lincoln in 1977, Watford were utterly transformed as he led them to the top-flight in just five years. "Our thoughts are with Graham's family". I didn't know Graham personally, but our paths did cross on occasions.