Former England manager Graham Taylor mourned

Former England manager Graham Taylor, who led Watford from the fourth tier into Europe and also had a successful spell in charge of Aston Villa, has died at the age of 72.

Graham Taylor as England manager in September 1990
Graham Taylor as England manager in September 1990 ©Getty Images

Former England manager Graham Taylor has died at the age of 72.

A family statement released on Thursday said: "With the greatest sadness, we have to announce that Graham passed away at his home early this morning of a suspected heart attack. The family are devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss."

A lower-division player, Taylor first became a manager in his 20s with Lincoln City before moving on to Watford, where he made his name in conjunction with pop star chairman Elton John. Taking over with Watford in the fourth tier, he took them to second in the Football League behind Liverpool in 1982/83, earning the Hornets a UEFA Cup campaign, and then reaching the 1984 FA Cup final.

Taylor switched to Aston Villa in 1987, sealing promotion back to the top division and finishing second, again behind Liverpool, in 1989/90, securing him the England job.

Under Taylor, England qualified for the eight-team EURO '92 but he stepped down the following year after missing out on the FIFA World Cup finals.

Further spells in management followed at Wolverhampton Wanderers and back at Watford – taking them from the third to first tier – and Villa. He was only the third man to manage in 1,000 English league games after Brian Clough and Jim Smith.

In later years Taylor concentrated on a media career and also had a stint as chairman of Watford, who named one of their Vicarage Road stands after him in 2014.

Tributes to Graham Taylor