England legend Ray Wilkins has died aged 61 following a heart attack.
Wilkins, who most recently appeared on Alan Brazil’s Talksport breakfast show and Sky Sports as a pundit, reportedly collapsed last Wednesday at his £2.6 million property in Surrey after only appearing on the radio a day earlier.
The former international footballer and Chelsea coach had been getting treatment at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, South London, before passing away.
Former England captain Ray Wilkins has died aged 61. pic.twitter.com/VLOwTJqyYK
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 4, 2018
Wilkins met his wife while she was a secretary for then-Chelsea manager Eddie McReadie. They were married for just six weeks when Chelsea were relegated and he moved north to play for Manchester United.
He received an MBE at Buckingham Palace in 1993 for his contribution to football, winning 84 caps and scoring three goals for the national team.
Beginning his career in 1973 with Chelsea, Butch – his childhood nickname, later played for European giants like Manchester United, AC Milan, Paris St-Germain and Rangers.
His coaching career came to an end in 2015 at Aston Villa alongside the sacking of then-manager Tim Sherwood.
Since then he mainly kept himself busy as a pundit for Sky Sports, the BBC and Talksport despite battling alcohol related issues and ulcerative colitis.
Ray has often opened up about his problems and checked himself in to get help for his alcohol problem after a drink-drive incident in 2013.
Chelsea were among the first to offer their condolences:
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. pic.twitter.com/cSDhloOPDZ
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 4, 2018
Wilkins spoke candidly about his struggles with alcoholism in 2016, saying:
It’s an awful disease that I have, and it’s been a very tough period, I think more so for the family than myself. I’m the person who causes the problems, and they have to suffer the consequences to a large degree. I’m a very fortunate person to have had their support.
I was fortunate, along with my family, that I was able to go into the Priory in Woking, and I was there for five weeks in a rehab centre in which I’d have to say the expertise of the therapists was quite fantastic.
It’s not easy to go into therapy; it’s a very difficult place to be, but I was delighted I went in and I learnt a lot of things. I learnt a lot of tools which I brought out that will hopefully help me throughout the years to come.
Our thoughts are with the family of Ray Wilkins at this hard time.