London (AFP) – Former England, Chelsea and Manchester United midfielder Ray Wilkins died on Wednesday at the age of 61, days after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Wilkins, who won 84 England caps and was one of the most technically gifted players of his generation, had been treated in a London hospital since Friday.
The hospital issued a statement on behalf of the family, thanking friends, colleagues and members of the public for the “many goodwill messages”.
Chelsea, in a Twitter post, said: “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.”
Wilkins, known in the game by his childhood nickname “Butch”, played for 11 clubs including AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Glasgow Rangers, and was on the coaching staff of several more.
The midfielder started his career with Chelsea and spent six years with the Blues, while also having numerous stints as assistant manager. On one occasion, he led the side on a caretaker basis.
“Without question one of Chelsea’s greatest, most famous and most admired home-grown players, Ray was a much-loved icon and ambassador. He will be dreadfully missed,” the club said on its website.
During his career as a player, Wilkins won the FA Cup with Manchester United in 1983, scoring a memorable goal in the first tie against Brighton at Wembley, which ended 2-2. He also won the Scottish title with Rangers in 1989.
He became the fourth player sent off while playing for England when he was dismissed during the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico in a game against Morocco.
Wilkins, who had been employed as a TV pundit, worked alongside Guus Hiddink at Stamford Bridge and was assistant when Carlo Ancelotti took over.
Manchester United tweeted: “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.”
A tweet on AC Milan’s account said: “Goodbye Ray, you will be missed: tonight we’re gonna fight like you taught us!”