Former England manager Graham Taylor has died at the age of 72.
Taylor’s death was confirmed on Thursday, prompting an outpouring of grief in the game, especially in England.
He managed his country between 1990 and 1993, taking over from Bobby Robson after semi-final glory at Italia 90, although he was not able to replicate such success as the Three Lions exited Euro 92 at the group stage and failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup under Taylor’s leadership.
A fly-on-the-wall documentary entitled ‘An Impossible Job’ wrote Taylor into English football folklore, his utterances of “Do I not like that!” and “Can we not knock it?” as England drew 1-1 in Poland going down in history.
Regardless, Taylor will go down as one of the greatest managers in the history of England’s Football League, with a phenomenal record of promotions to back him up.
Taylor made his name in management with Watford, guiding the club from the Fourth Division to the First in the space if five years after taking charge in 1977 – taking the Hornets to the top flight for the first time in their history.
Future England internationals John Barnes and Luther Blissett emerged under the tutelage of Taylor, who led Watford into Europe for the first time and to their only FA Cup final appearance to date in 1983-84, although Everton beat them to the trophy.
Taylor was handed the position of honorary life president by the club and also has a stand at Vicarage Road named after him in light of his achievements.
After a history-making decade with Watford, Taylor took charge of Aston Villa, who had fallen to the Second Division just five years after winning the European Cup. Watford were relegated that season after Taylor left and Barnes also went to Liverpool.
Taylor restored Villa to the top flight immediately and after a season of consolidation, led them to second place in the First Division, just pipped to the title by Liverpool.
Again England benefitted as David Platt emerged as a star at Villa, but Taylor was not able to lead his country to success when he assumed control.
After a restorative term in charge of Wolves, Taylor affirmed his legendary status at Watford, once again guiding them to the top flight in successive seasons before leaving in 2001 and his managerial career ended after a season back at Villa in 2002-03.
He went on to work extensively in the British media, also serving on the boards of Watford and Scunthorpe United – his hometown club – who went from escaping relegation to the Conference to the Championship with Taylor at the helm – a fitting addition to a legacy of success that ought to outshine his international struggles.
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