Ray Wilkins, an elegant midfielder who captained England's national soccer team and played for illustrious teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea and AC Milan in a 24-year career, died Wednesday. He was 61.
St. George's Hospital said in a statement on behalf of Wilkins' family that he died Wednesday morning. Wilkins had been in an induced coma after a cardiac arrest led to a fall on Friday.
Nicknamed "Butch," Wilkins played 84 times for England — captaining the team for 10 games. He also played for Rangers and Queens Park Rangers, among others, in a club career that ended in 1997.
He went on to coach QPR and Fulham, as well as having a brief spell in charge of Jordan's national team. He was assistant coach at a slew of clubs, most notably Chelsea from 2008-10.
Chelsea described Wilkins as a "popular and much-loved figure" who was "widely regarded by the many people who met him as one of the nicest guys in football, possessing a wonderful turn of phrase and a contagious love for the sport."
Everybody associated with Chelsea Football Club is devastated to learn of the passing of our former player, captain and assistant coach, Ray Wilkins. Rest in peace, Ray, you will be dreadfully missed. pic.twitter.com/cSDhloOPDZ— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 4, 2018
Wilkins' soothing voice and insight made him stand out as a commentator on British TV and radio in recent years.
As a player, he was a technically gifted midfielder, two-footed, and an intelligent passer of the ball.
Wilkins "was the consummate midfielder who possessed brilliant footballing skills and a brain to match," United said in a statement.
The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Manchester United are with the family, friends and colleagues of our former midfielder Ray Wilkins, following his tragic passing. pic.twitter.com/38w2MW86eg— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 4, 2018
As a player, he won the FA Cup with United in 1983 and the Scottish league title with Rangers in 1989.
In between, he moved to AC Milan in 1984 and was one of the few high-profile English players to play abroad. He played in Milan for three years before a short stint at Paris Saint-Germain.
At international level, one of Wilkins' most famous moments came in 1986 when he became the first England player to be sent off in a World Cup after throwing the ball at a referee during a group game against Morocco.
"A wonderful footballer and a delightful man," tweeted former England striker Gary Lineker, who played alongside Wilkins in the 1986 World Cup and finished as the tournament's top scorer. "It was a pleasure to have played alongside him with England. No teammate was more helpful and supportive. I'll be forever grateful."
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— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) April 4, 2018
Goodbye Ray, you will be missed: tonight we're gonna fight like you taught us!— AC Milan (@acmilan) April 4, 2018
Ciao Ray, ci mancherai: questa sera lotteremo su ogni pallone come avresti fatto tu!
RIP, Ray Wilkins 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/YLokjuXkvD
Wilkins is survived by his wife, Jackie, two children and several grandchildren.
(With AP Inputs)