Ugo Ehiogu: Villa legend and fans' favourite - what a player he was

Tom Waller
Aston Villa team celebrate after winning the Coca Cola Cup in 1996

His name, presence and on field positional sense are just three of the things that I think about make when the big man springs to mind. The death of Ugo Ehiogu has shocked the football world, and at just 44 and current under 23s coach at Tottenham Hotspur, his passing is beyond untimely.  There have now been three untimely passing’s of Villa legends in the past year, with Ugo joining Dalian Atkinson and Graham Taylor as true Holte Enders in the Sky from a golden era at Villa Park.

Ugo was one of my Villa heroes growing up, part of a team that won a League Cup, and in fact he was part of a team that won Villa’s last trophy, back in 1996 under Brian Little. Ugo was colossal that day, where he had formed a formidable centre back partnership with a certain Paul McGrath. The photos circulating around social media today are of Ugo and his beaming smile on that cup-winning day, holding the Coca Cola Cup, as it was known back then with sheer joy and true pride.

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This was what winning was about, and he along with 10 other Villa lions that day made everyone watching on so proud. Ugo was a mainstay in a team that really did do the Villa faithful proud. Ugo played in the same team as Mark Bosnich, Gareth Southgate, Ian Taylor and Dwight Yorke, these were true 90s legends at Villa and fans still speak so fondly of today.

Ugo Ehiogu spent nine years at Aston Villa and is a club legend

Over his nine-year spell for Villa, when Ugo made nearly 300 appearances, he truly flourished in his centre back partnership with Southgate from the 1996 season onwards. Villa played UEFA Cup football, regularly finished top eight in the Premier League and a highly-respected football club around Europe. Ugo, and his teams mates instilled that with the guidance of Ron Atkinson, Brian Little and John Gregory.

Under appreciated at England level, but adored at Villa Park, he truly was a fan favourite. Ugo was a consistently fantastic defender, perfectly timed his tackles using his long legs and his head was always in the right place when defending corners in particular. He was also known as one of the good guys in football, he took time out with fans and happy to chat.

The club has arranged a one-minute applause for him ahead of kick off for the game on Sunday against Birmingham City. I hope the players and fans will do the big man proud!

Rest easy, Ugo.

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