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Ugochuku Ehiogu (/ˈɛhiɒɡ/; 3 November 1972 – 21 April 2017) was an English professional footballer, who played as a centre back from 1989 to 2009. He was the coach of the Tottenham Hotspur U-23 Team until his death in April 2017.
He played in the Premier League with lengthy spells at Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. He also played in the Football League for West Bromwich Albion, Leeds United and Sheffield United, as well as a spell in the Scottish Premier League with Rangers. He won a total of three Football League Cups, two with Aston Villa in 1994 and 1996, then with Middlesbrough in 2004. Ehiogu was an England international, with a record of 4 caps and 1 goal. In 2012, he came out of brief retirement by signing for non-league side Wembley to participate in the club's FA Cup games alongside other retired veteran players.Contents
Ehiogu began his career at West Bromwich Albion as a trainee, turning professional in 1989. After just a few games for Albion in the Second Division, Ron Atkinson brought him to First Division Aston Villa for £40,000 in August 1991. By 1994, he had replaced Shaun Teale as the main central defensive partner to Paul McGrath.
He remained at the club for nine years, making over 300 appearances in all competitions. He was part of the Villa team that won the 1996 League Cup as Villa beat Leeds 3–0. Ehiogu also won a runners-up medal when Villa lost 1–0 to Chelsea in the 2000 FA Cup Final. He joined Middlesbrough from Villa in November 2000 for, at the time, a club record fee of £8 million. The deal went ahead after negotiations between Villa and West Bromwich Albion, whose 50% sell-on clause on the player had been seen as a stumbling block to the move.Middlesbrough
His career at Boro got off on the wrong foot when he was forced to limp off four minutes into his debut at Charlton Athletic with a hamstring injury which kept him out for months. Whilst at Middlesbrough, Ehiogu quickly became a mainstay in the central defence since joining the club and rejoining his former team mate Gareth Southgate in central defence. He missed the start of the 2003–04 season with a knee injury but returned to play his part in Boro's League Cup success against Bolton Wanderers. This knee injury returned in the 2004–05 season and again he was forced to miss many important games, although Boro still managed to secure a place in the UEFA Cup for a second successive season.
He agreed a move to West Bromwich Albion, the club where he had started as a 16-year-old, during the January transfer window of 2006, but this move was cancelled when a number of Middlesbrough players became injured. On 23 November 2006 he moved to Leeds United on loan for two months until January. Ehiogu was a regular in Leeds' starting line-up during his loan move, usually alongside Matt Heath in central defence. He made six appearances and scored one goal against Barnsley and also an own goal against Stoke, during his spell at Leeds, which ended in January 2007 when his loan deal expired.Rangers
Ehiogu was released from his contract at Middlesbrough and started talks with Rangers over a proposed transfer to the Scottish Premier League club. On 22 January 2007, he signed an 18-month contract with Rangers after completing a medical. Once the technicalities of the transfer were concluded, Ehiogu officially joined Rangers three days later. His first goal for Rangers came in March 2007 with a spectacular overhead kick in his first Old Firm game, giving Rangers a 1–0 win. On 16 April 2007 Ehiogu's goal against Celtic was voted Rangers' Goal of the Season at an award ceremony as voted for by the club's fans.
Ehiogu found his first team opportunities limited at the start of the 2007–08 season, with Carlos Cuéllar and David Weir being preferred by manager Walter Smith. He was released by Rangers that January.Sheffield United
On 16 January 2008 it was reported that Sheffield United were interested in signing Ehiogu. The next day he was released by Rangers and travelled down to Sheffield for talks with club manager Bryan Robson. He completed the move on 18 January 2008. Ehiogu made his first team debut for the Blades in a 1–1 home draw with Watford at the end of January, and was used a defensive cover for the remainder of the season.
With injuries and suspensions to his fellow defenders in the early stages of the following season he forced his way into the first team and was rewarded with what turned out to be his only goal in Blades colours, scoring the winner against Preston North End in October 2008. Having embarked on his most successful spell for United he suffered an injury in the Boxing Day game against Wolves which sidelined him for the rest of the season. After the Blades failed to gain promotion, Ehiogu was released at the end of the season when his contract expired as the club tried to cut costs.
On 3 August 2009, Ehiogu retired from football after a trial with Milton Keynes Dons.Wembley
On 24 August 2012 Ehiogu came out of retirement to sign for Wembley F.C., agreeing to play in the club's FA Cup games alongside fellow former professionals Ray Parlour, Martin Keown, Claudio Caniggia, Brian McBride and Graeme Le Saux.International career
He made his senior England debut as a substitute against China on 23 May 1996, replacing Tony Adams after 76 minutes of a 3-0 win at the Workers' Stadium in Beijing. He went on to win another three caps and scored once for his country, a header in a 3–0 victory over Spain on 28 February 2001 at Villa Park.International goals # Date Venue Opponent Result Competition Scored 1 28 February 2001 Villa Park, Birmingham Spain 3–0 Friendly match 1 Coaching career
Ehiogu also worked with the England under-20 team in 2013 and was part of Peter Taylor's coaching team at the U20 World Cup. Following a period working part-time with the Tottenham Hotspur Academy Ehiogu was appointed Under-21 Team Coach as part of Tottenham Hotspur F.C. Academy in July 2014.Personal life
After retiring Ehiogu founded his own record label, Dirty Hit.Death
On 20 April 2017, Ehiogu collapsed due to a suspected heart attack at the Tottenham Hotspur training ground and was taken to hospital, where he died early the next morning at the age of 44, leaving behind his wife Gemma, and a son.Honours