Ray Wilkins dies at 61 following cardiac arrest as footballing world mourn Chelsea legend
Wilkins, who won 84 England caps, had been treated in St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south-west London, since Friday.
A statement from Chelsea read: “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 had carried out media duties on talkSPORT and Sky Sports – he was a regular pundit on both platforms – shortly before suffering the cardiac arrest, and was taken to St George’s Hospital on Friday.
HOW DID RAY WILKINS DIE?
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 – known in the game by his childhood nickname ‘Butch’ – played for 11 clubs and was on the coaching staff of several more, but is commonly associated with Chelsea.
The midfielder started his career there 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.
A TRIBUTE TO RAY WILKINS
Ray Wilkins, who has died aged 61, found fame with Manchester United and England, but it was with boyhood club Chelsea that his bond was closest.
Wilkins won the FA Cup with United and the Scottish Premiership and League Cup when at Rangers, but it was as a combative midfielder at Stamford Bridge where he made his name and went on to become a trusted coach under a number of different managers.
In a club career of almost 700 appearances, he played for 11 clubs in total, including AC Milan, Paris St Germain and Chelsea’s west London rivals QPR. He was capped 84 times by England and sent off in the 1986 World Cup.
Born on September 14, 1956, in Hillingdon, one of four sons of professional footballer George, Wilkins joined Chelsea as an apprentice in the time before millionaire footballers and social media stardom.
Brothers Graham and Stephen also signed for the Stamford Bridge club, while Dean played for and managed Brighton.
But it was Ray who rose to greatest prominence after making his debut for Chelsea as a 17-year-old in 1973.
In 1975, following relegation from the First Division, Wilkins assumed the captaincy from John Hollins and led the club to a swift return to the top flight, making his name on the field and featuring regularly as a pin-up in teen magazines off it.
But Chelsea were relegated again and the debt-ridden club cashed in by selling Wilkins to Manchester United for £800,000 in 1979.
He helped United win the 1983 FA Cup, scoring a rare goal in a 2-2 draw in the first game before a 4-0 win in the replay saw the Red Devils lift the trophy. It was a rare piece of silverware for Wilkins as a player in his home country.
Three years in Italy with Milan and just four months in Paris were followed by a move to Rangers, which saw Wilkins lift both the League title and League Cup in 1988-89.
Wilkins also played for Crystal Palace, QPR twice, Wycombe, Hibernian, Millwall and Leyton Orient.
In a workmanlike international career he is probably best known for becoming the fourth player sent off while representing England.
He was shown a red card during a group game against Morocco at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico for throwing the ball at Paraguayan referee Gabriel Gonzalez.
He was banned for two matches and also missed the 2-1 defeat to Argentina in the quarter-finals.
After retiring from playing, Wilkins managed Fulham before working as a coach at Chelsea, Watford and Millwall, but it was following his return to Chelsea that he enjoyed his biggest success.
As assistant to Carlo Ancelotti, he played a part in Chelsea’s first Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010, leading to the Italian describing Wilkins as “a real blue-blood” in his autobiography.
After leaving Stamford Bridge, Wilkins worked on the coaching staff at Fulham and Aston Villa and also managed the Jordan national team before latterly moving into TV work.
He appeared regularly as a co-commentator and pundit on Sky Sports News and talkSPORT.In 2014 Wilkins revealed he was suffering from ulcerative colitis and in 2016 he was given a four-year ban for drink driving.
Wilkins, who died in hospital on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest last Friday, is survived by his wife Jackie, his two children and six grandchildren.
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