Tributes pour in for former England midfielder Ray Wilkins

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Ray Wilkins has been described as an “absolute gentlemen” and a “fierce winner” after the former England captain died in hospital following a cardiac arrest. He was 61.

Wilkins, who won 84 caps for his country from 1976-86, had been treated in St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south-west London since Friday.

Former Three Lions team-mates Gary Lineker, Terry Butcher and Peter Reid all spoke warmly about Wilkins’ personality as well as talent on the pitch.

Lineker said on Twitter: “Deeply saddened to hear that Ray Wilkins has passed away. A wonderful footballer and a delightful man. It was a pleasure to have played alongside him with England. No teammate was more helpful and supportive. I’ll be forever grateful. Thoughts are with his family. #RIPRay”

Terry Butcher told Sky Sports News HQ: “I think it’s a difficult time for all of football, not just his family and friends because I don’t know anybody that had a bad word to say about Ray at all – on or off the pitch.

“He was just an absolute gentlemen but a fierce winner. It was an absolute pleasure and a real privilege to play with him and I just can’t believe it.

“He was such a charismatic character, great in the dressing room, great on the pitch but he wanted football played the right way. He wanted to get it and pass it, he would tell you things on the pitch and encourage you.

“We’ve lost an unbelievable character, an unbelievable gentleman and an unbelievable football player.”

Peter Shilton posted on Twitter: “I’m devastated to receive this sad news of my former team mate Ray Wilkins a great footballer and well respected by the players rip a very sad day for me only laughing together a few weeks ago”

Peter Reid added on Sky Sports News HQ: “He was an absolutely outstanding, outstanding human being.

“His legacy would be ‘win, lose or draw, you’ve always got to have class’ and that’s what Ray Wilkins was.”

Sir Alex Ferguson, speaking as a board member of the League Managers Association said: “I am very, very sad to hear the news about Ray and send my deepest sympathies to Ray’s wife Jackie, his children Jade and Ross and all of his family.

“Ray was a great football man, who was well respected and liked by all who knew him and he always had a kind word and time for people.

“Ray was an impressive football talent and had a fantastic career representing some of the biggest clubs in the world including Chelsea, Manchester United, AC Milan and PSG and of course his country, England.

“As a manager, Ray was so popular amongst his LMA colleagues and I know that he will be missed by us all.”

Former AC Milan team-mate Franco Baresi tweeted: “In these moments you never know what to say, but it was an honour to have you as a companion, you were special, a gentleman on the field and out. Thank you Ray Wilkins RIP”.

Paul Gascoigne, who like Wilkins played in Italy and Scotland, added: “Such a great loss, just heard he’s just passed away, he was such a gentleman an unbelievable player, 1st player to succeed playing in Italy, I remember playing against him, everyone was saying it’s either him or me for ENGLAND and I didn’t even get a touch, he was brilliant RIP ray xx

Former England striker Alan Shearer put on Twitter: “So sad to hear the news about Ray Wilkins. He lived for and loved football. I was lucky enough to have worked with him and he was always a true gentleman. He will be sorely missed by so many. #RIPRay.”

Andy Sinton, who played for QPR with Wilkins in the 1990s, posted: “He was my idol, my inspiration, my team-mate, but more importantly than that, he was my mate. I’ll miss him more than he’ll have ever known. Condolences to his family, especially Jackie. RIP Razor. #QPR”

Wilkins’ former clubs incuding Chelsea, AC Milan, Manchester United and Rangers also paid tribute.

Former Rangers team-mate John Brown said on the club’s official website: “I cannot begin to say how desperately sad I am right now and of course my thoughts are with Ray’s family.

“He wasn’t just a team-mate and superb footballer because when you stood with him on the pitch you were standing beside a friend for life.”

Wilkins also made numerous appearances on Sky Sports and the broadcaster’s managing director Barney Francis also paid tribute, saying:  “Ray was a friend to everyone at here Sky Sports, and we are devastated by today’s news. He was a wonderful footballer, a great coach and an insightful and entertaining broadcaster.

“Above all, Ray was a great man, terrific company and someone who was hugely popular with everyone in football. It is sudden and tragic and our hearts go out to his family.”

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