Football set to pay tribute to Taylor

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Football is preparing to pay tribute to former England manager Graham Taylor at fixtures taking place this weekend.

Taylor, who enjoyed success with Watford, Wolves, Aston Villa and Lincoln City, died aged 72 on Thursday.

A minute’s applause will be held before the weekend’s English Football League matches.

Watford, whom he managed for 15 years over two spells, will commemorate Taylor before their game against Middlesbrough on Saturday.

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The EFL said it was also giving clubs the option of letting their players wear black armbands during this weekend’s fixtures.

The Premier League will leave the decision of whether to pay tribute to individual clubs. Its executive chairman Richard Scudamore said Taylor’s “insight, wit and self-deprecating humour” would be missed.

“You will struggle to find a more decent individual in football – one who cared passionately about all levels and aspects of the English game,” he said.

Meanwhile, Watford supporters have been laying tributes to Taylor outside their stadium, where a stand is named after their former manager, chairman and, more recently, honorary vice-president.

As a club manager, Taylor led Watford from the Fourth Division to runners-up in the old First Division in five years, and to the 1984 FA Cup final.

He took Aston Villa to second in the First Division, returning to Watford and Villa after his spell in charge of the national side, and also managing Wolves.

Wolves meet Aston Villa in a Championship game at Molineux on Saturday.

Taylor became England boss in 1990 but resigned in 1993 after the team failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

He later became a respected pundit for BBC Sport.

He leaves behind his wife Rita and daughters Joanne and Karen.

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‘Genuine, honest, passionate’

In the aftermath of the news of Taylor’s death, emotional tributes poured in from the football community.

BBC Radio 5 live hosted a tribute show in Taylor’s honour, in which his colleagues and peers spoke about the effect he had on their lives.

Former England captain Alan Shearer, who was given his national team debut by Taylor, said he held him in the “highest, highest regard”.

“The biggest and best compliment I can give him is he was genuine, honest, passionate and down to earth,” he said.

“Most of all, he just absolutely loved his football. He was so genuine, so honest and his passion for the game was just immense.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche – whose first managerial position was at Watford, where Taylor offered him guidance, said he would be “forever in his debt”.

“He had an extremely thick skin, and he showed that by defending me on the radio when I was a young manager as well. Things like that mean a lot,” he said.

“To have that strength behind me when I was a young manager meant a lot.”

John Murray, a football commentator for 5 live who worked with him during his time as a pundit and summariser, said that Taylor was “everything I had hoped before I met him”.

“He was steeped in football – he was brilliant at being interested in other people and would always want to talk about football,” he said.

“I’d describe him as one of the football managers of our time. His club career was outstanding.”

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‘A charming ambassador for football’

Fans have been paying tribute to Taylor too, with thousands of people using social media to share their stories of the former England manager:

Robert Howard: I spent a train journey from Hemel Hempstead to Euston sitting talking to Graham. We spoke about football old and new. Kids, football and life in general. He was friendly, open and a very nice man. I am glad I met him.

Alan Jones: I refereed a youth team match between Portsmouth and Watford. On the same afternoon, Watford’s first team were due to play Bournemouth, so they stopped at Eastleigh to watch the youth match on their way there. Graham came into the dressing room afterwards and thanked me for the game, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He looked at the towel around my waist and asked me to get a new one, as he did not like orange. He was a very charming and supportive ambassador for football. RIP.

Dave Revell: Met Graham Taylor at a charity day for Kit Aid. Had so much time for people and was always so nice. One of England’s better managers.

Will Room: I remember seeing a clip of Taylor in the dugout during a match, and some fans behind him shouting out racial abuse to John Barnes and he went hell for leather against them – didn’t hold back telling the fans to sit down and shut up basically. Back then it was probably normal for fans to think they could get away with stuff like that but Graham Taylor was definitely a decent man and respected everyone who played for him. Top bloke.

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The Taylor story

Taylor started out as a player and, after coming through the youth ranks with Scunthorpe, was a defender at Grimsby and Lincoln.

He became manager at Lincoln in 1972 aged 28, and led them to the old Fourth Division title in 1975-76 before joining Watford.

In his first spell as Hornets boss between 1977 and 1987, Taylor took the club to the top flight and they finished second to Liverpool in 1983.

He was appointed by Villa in 1987 and, after leading them to promotion into the top tier, took them to second in 1990.

His exploits led to his appointment as England manager, but he had a turbulent spell in charge of the national team as they failed to make it out of the group at Euro 92 and did not qualify for the World Cup in the United States two years later.

Taylor’s return to club management came with a relatively brief stint at Wolves before he again took over at Watford, leading them to two promotions in as many years as he guided them back into English football’s top flight.

He also returned to manage Villa in 2002 but retired a year later.

His association with Watford continued when he became chairman in 2009, a post he held for three years, and the club renamed their Rous Stand at Vicarage Road after Taylor in 2014.

“In this day and age, when a stand is named after somebody, it’s for commercial reasons. I felt honoured,” he told BBC Three Counties Radio at the time.

Graham Taylor’s managerial record

  • Lincoln City (1972-77) – Youngest person to become an FA coach, at the age of 27. Won Fourth Division title in 1976.
  • Watford (1977-1987) – Led team from Fourth Division to First Division in five years (W244, D124, L159)
  • Aston Villa (1987-1990) – Took over when Villa had been relegated to Second Division. Took them back to top flight at his first attempt. Finished runners-up to Liverpool in his third season in charge (W65, D35, L42)
  • England (1990-1993) – Failed to progress beyond group stage of Euro 92 or qualify for World Cup in 1994 (W18, D13, L7)
  • Wolves (1994-1995) – Resigned after one full season in charge (W37, D27, L24)
  • Watford (1996-2001) – Won Division Two title in 1998 and Division One play-off final in 1999 (W104, D80, L91)
  • Aston Villa (2002-2003) – Finished 16th in Premier League before retiring (W19, D14, L27)

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