Former Watford, Aston Villa, and England manager Graham Taylor has died aged 72 of a suspected heart attack, his familyannounced in a statement Thursday.
Taylor grew up in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire and spent his playing days in nearby towns, representing Grimsby Townand Lincoln City. It was in management that he made his name, however, beginning at the latter club but then gaining momentum at Watford from 1977.
He turned down a job from top-tier West Bromwich Albion to realise the potential of the Hornets under the chairmanship of musician Elton John. Taylor steered Watford into the top flight from the fourth rung of the football ladder, finished runner-up in the 1984 FA Cup, and honed the talents of some of the club’s finest-ever players, such as Luther Blissett, Les Taylor, Ian Bolton, Ross Jenkins, and John Barnes.
In 1987, Taylor sought to challenge himself again, so took the reins at Aston Villa, which was reeling in the second tier after collecting the European Cup just five years earlier and the English championship in 1981. Despite some less convincing performances to conclude the season, Taylor dragged the Villans back into the old Division One at the first time of asking. Two seasons later, Aston Villa squabbled with the juggernaut ofLiverpool at the summit of the country’s game, but eventually took the runner-up spot.
His unquestionable talents in management were then recognised by his appointment as England manager. Unfortunately, he couldn’t translate his exploits at club level to the international stage, and followed a disappointing early exit from Euro 1992 with an inability to qualify for the 1994 World Cup staged in the United States.
After three years in charge of England, Taylor spent 23 months at Wolverhampton Wanderers before returning to Watford, where he took it from the second tier and back into the Premier League. He left Vicarage Road for the last time as manager in 2001, before coming out of retirement to oversee Aston Villa once again until relations with chairman “Deadly” Doug Ellis soured in 2003.
When he had stepped away for management for good, Taylor combined media duties with roles in the boardrooms of first Scunthorpe United, his hometown club, and then, of course, Watford.