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Tributes pour in for Watford legend Graham Taylor

“He was kind, courteous and considerate. He was interested in you as a person and was totally without ego. He had a very good sense of humour and could laugh at himself. That he loved the game is not the news here. That he survived the evisceration and humiliation of his England reign ending in resignation and came out the other side, still smiling, still besotted with football, still able to meet foe as much as friend in the eye, that certainly is the news. Graham Taylor showed the way to behave, how to treat people and what is really important in life.”

Mark Pougatch, BBC 5 live

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“He was a very, very funny man – I don’t know whether people saw that side of him. He had a very dry sense of humour. He was a pal as well as a manager in my life. It’s devastating news. He could lose it when he wanted to but then he could put an arm round you. He was very clever when it came to man-management.”

Dion Dublin

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“The best thing he did for me was give me the chance to learn. He allowed me time to learn on the job, allow the freedom to go and learn. He knew young managers needed time to learn and make mistakes. He was a real sounding board, he didn’t tell me what to do – he really did keep his distance. I knew he was there when I needed him. I’m forever in his debt for that. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Sean Dyche

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“We couldn’t get accreditation to that game. We were refused accreditation and this meant we didn’t get access. It was a complete disaster. As a last resort I banged on Graham’s door. ‘Don’t you bloody worry’, he said. The kitman, Fred Street, got us, two Scotsman, dressed up as players in England tracksuits, put the camera and recording kit in with the kit and got on the bus with England players and we got in.”

Ken McGill, director of the ‘Impossible Job’ documentary.

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“Graham got a hard time by the media. He did get treated badly, it was a vindictive and personal attack he had to suffer and it was grossly unfair. He didn’t cut it as England manager, he was out of his depth but he’s not alone in that. I think what happened with England broke his heart.”

Harry Harris, former Daily Mirror journalist

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“Truly devastated to hear the news about Graham Taylor’s passing. He was my mentor as a young professional at WFC, he always supported me and pushed me to do better and strive for better. Never make do, never give up. Graham, thank you for everything you did for me, you will be sorely missed. Sending my thoughts and prayers to Rita.”

Paul Robinson

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“He told me to stick to cricket [instead of pursuing a career in football]. It was only him and my father who said that to me. He had a good knowledge of cricket, he watched a lot of it. He knew what he was talking about. He was at many a Test match. He was always welcome anytime he wanted to come up to the commentary box. Everyone was pleased to see him. A lot of people get called great and an icon but he was certainly both of those.”

Ian Botham

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“He’s one of the football managers of our time. His club career was outstanding and what he did at Watford was truly remarkable.”

John Murray, BBC Radio 5 live commentator

“Watford are today in the Premier League because of the base Graham Taylor gave them. He gave them ambition, realisation and the fans belief – that’s down to Graham Taylor. People think you have to carry around a medal and a cup to be a success. To take a club like Watford from where they were, through the divisions – that’s success.”

Jimmy Armfield

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“I have fond memories of him. If he could help you anyway, he would.”

Sir Alex Ferguson

“He was a nice genuine human being. Yes, the criticism [from the media] would have hurt him but no way would he ever let the players see that or let it affect him in front of us. He was so genuine and honest. He never had the rub of the green as England manager. It just never worked for him.”

Alan Shearer

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“I only played a few times under Graham Taylor but his management was very good. You could sit and talk all night with him, not just about football. I’ve never met [his wife] Rita but I know so much about her.”

Chris Waddle

“The pinnacle of my football career was at Watford under Graham. He just said to me [on the day of the cup final] captain the side, just play your own game. He was a workaholic and used to say to be a professional you have to pay attention to detail. I’ve used it throughout my career.”

Les Taylor

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“I can’t believe this has happened. He was a very special person. It’s like losing a family member. We listened to every word he said [as a coach] and went out and tried to deliver it to the letter He paid so much attention to detail and that’s why we had so much success.”

Luther Blissett

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“He never forgot his roots, never forgot where he came from. He loved ballet, he was always at Birmingham Hippodrome. He loved athletics, he was a Birchfield Harrier and he was a member at Warwickshire County Cricket Club. He was a left-hand bat, obdurate, no shots, you couldn’t get him out. He was also first to the bar. I had a call from Graham Gooch – he was really upset, he couldn’t believe it. I had a text from Nigel Clough who said how sad it was. That’s how many people he touched, from various sports.”

Pat Murphy, BBC Radio 5 live

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“He was the biggest influence on my career, he was like a father figure. He was very approachable and so knowledgeable about the game. He brought on my game so much it was unbelievable. He was ahead of his time.”

Tony Daley

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