English football has paid tribute to Graham Taylor following his death at 72 from a suspected heart attack. Held in high regard for his warmth and friendly nature, an ill-fated three-year spell with England in the early 1990s often unfairly shadowed his impressive club achievements.

A former full-back for Grimsby Town and Lincoln City before injury forced an early retirement, Taylor began his managerial career in 1972 and became the youngest ever FA-registered coach aged just 27. He was appointed as Watford boss by Sir Elton John in 1977 and took the club from the fourth division to the first within five years, later reaching the third round of the Uefa Cup and an FA Cup final.

He also took the reins at Aston Villa in 1987 and guided them to promotion at the first time of asking before helping to consolidate their place back in the top-flight. That list of achievements led to his appointment as successor to Sir Bobby Robson as England manager after the 1990 World Cup.

He later resigned from the position after a failure to qualify for USA 94. Taylor's Three Lions tenure was perhaps most notable for an ugly exit from Euro 92, when he was vilified in the press following a 2-1 defeat to hosts Sweden that saw him substitute Gary Lineker on his final international appearance. The prolific striker was just one short of equalling Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time scoring record.

After his unhappy stint with the national team, Taylor spent one solitary campaign at Wolverhampton Wanderers before earning two more promotions during a second stretch at Watford. He retired from club management in 2001, but quickly returned to Villa for another spell that ended after only 15 months. Awarded an OBE for his services to football, he also served as a radio and television pundit for many years, primarily with the BBC.

Graham Taylor and Elton John
Graham Taylor and Chairman Elton John share a drink on the Vicarage Road pitch in April 11, 1984 Jack Kay/Express/Getty Images

The first death of a former England manager since Robson in 2009 has led to an outpouring of condolences from former clubs, players and punditry colleagues alike.

John led the tributes with an emotional Instagram post that read: "I am deeply saddened and shocked to hear about Graham's passing. He was like a brother to me. We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever. He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to unchartered territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius.

"This is a sad and dark day for Watford. The club and the town. We will cherish Graham and drown our sorrows in the many brilliant memories he gave us. I love you Graham. I will miss you very much. My thoughts go out to Rita, Joanne, Karen and the whole Taylor family."

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