London (AFP) – Two-time African player of the year Didier Drogba was amongst the football stars who sent messages of support to former Chelsea and Manchester United great Ray Wilkins who is seriously ill in hospital.
The 61-year-old — who was capped 84 times by England captaining them 10 times — is in an induced coma after suffering a heart attack at home.
“He’s in hospital, he’s had a cardiac arrest and is in intensive care,” his wife Jackie told the Daily Mirror on Saturday.
“He’s critically ill. The cardiac arrest led to a fall which has meant he has had to be put in an induced coma,” added Mrs Wilkins, who according to the paper is along with other members of the family keeping a bedside vigil.
Ivory Coast legend Drogba, who scored the winning penalty for Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League final shootout against Bayern Munich said the club’s ‘family’ had him firmly in their thoughts.
“Just found out about the news, be strong Ray Wilkins and family. We blue army are sending you our prayers on this religious day,” said the 40-year-old former Ivory Coast skipper.
Former Chelsea skipper Frank Lampard went on Instagram to send a message of support to Wilkins — who according to his wife is due to undergo another scan on Tuesday.
“All thoughts and strength with this man and his family tonight. An absolute gentleman,” wrote Lampard.
Gary Lineker, who was a team-mate of Wilkins’s at the 1986 World Cup which ended ignominiously for the midfielder as he became the first England player to be sent off at the finals, also wished him well.
“Thoughts are with Ray Wilkins and his family. Rooting for you, Butch (his nickname in his playing days),” tweeted Lineker.
Wilkins had a stellar playing career, although in terms of trophies he only won the 1983 FA Cup with Manchester United after a replay with Brighton — he scored a sublime goal in the first match — and the Scottish league title and League Cup in 1989.
His playing career also took him to Italian side AC Milan — prior to their years of dominating domestic and European competition — a brief spell at Paris Saint Germain and Queen’s Park Rangers.
He coached QPR, Fulham and Jordan as well as becoming caretaker manager at Chelsea when Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked in 2009.
Wilkins, who has been employed as a TV pundit, also worked alongside Guus Hiddink at Stamford Bridge and was assistant when Carlo Ancelotti took over with the club going on to achieve the domestic double in their first season together in 2009/10.
“The thoughts of everybody at Chelsea Football Club are with Ray Wilkins and his family tonight (Friday). Keep fighting Ray, you have our love and support,” said a statement on the Chelsea Twitter feed.