Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho have paid heartfelt tributes to Ray Wilkins after the former Manchester United and England midfielder passed away at the age of 61 on Wednesday.
The Englishman played for Man United between 1979 and 1984, making 160 league appearances, and claimed a memorable goal in the FA Cup final against Brighton and Hove Albion in 1983.
He captained England ten times and enjoyed stints at Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers, AC Milan, Rangers and Crystal Palace.
Ferguson, who took over at United two years after Wilkins’ departure, paid tribute to a universally respected character of the game.
“I am deeply saddened to hear that Ray Wilkins has passed away,” he said. “Ray excelled as a player and scored a magnificent goal in the FA Cup against Brighton.”
“He will be remembered by all of our supporters as an outstanding player and a lovely man by all of the staff that worked with him. His passion for the game never diminished. My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”
And Mourinho has likewise lamented the passing of the former Chelsea midfielder and coach, describing him as a “true gentleman”.
“I am deeply saddened to hear that Ray Wilkins has been taken from us at such a young age,” he said. “Ray will be remembered as a fantastic footballer but more importantly he will be remembered as a really true gentleman.”
“I was lucky enough to be in his company on many occasions and his love of football always shone through. He will be missed throughout the footballing world. My thoughts are with his family at this terribly sad time.”
Wilkins is not a player who I can profess to know about, but Wilkins the man is somebody the footballing world, regardless of age, deeply respected.
On a personal level I will miss his stint on Sky Sports every Monday morning, where he provided balanced and insightful observations of the weekend’s events, always adding something which you hadn’t considered yourself without going overboard in search of clicks unlike some others on the panel.
A humble, respectful, genuine character who loved – and deeply understood – the beautiful game. His passing is a loss for the footballing world at large.