Former England manager Graham Taylor dies, aged 72

Former England manager Graham Taylor pictured in 1990.  (Picture: Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images
Former England manager Graham Taylor pictured in 1990. (Picture: Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images
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Graham Taylor, the former England manager, has died at the age of 72.

Taylor, a pioneering manager with Watford who brought them up through the English divisions and established them in the top flight, was in charge of England from 1990 but left the job after they failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals.

At Watford, in the late 1970s and early 1980s under Elton John’s chairmanship, Taylor guide the club up from the old Fourth Division into the First Division, which was the top league at the time.

They finished runners-up to Liverpool in season 1982-83, qualifying for the Uefa Cup.

The following season Watford reached the FA Cup final but lost 2-0 to Everton at Wembley.

His work at Vicarage Road led to interest in him and he left to take over at Aston Villa in 1987. He guided them to promotion back to the First Division in his first season in charge and then kept them in the top flight.

He succeeded Bobby Robson as England manager in 1990 and took them to the finals of the 1992 European Championship in Sweden.

But England failed to win a game and were knocked out in the group stage.

Failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup sealed his fate and he found himself pilloried in the tabloid press.

His decision to take part in a fly-on-the-wall documentary while England boss was groundbreaking.

The documentary, granted behind-the-scenes access to Taylor’s final months in charge, revealed in graphic detail the strain he had endured.

After a brief period at Wolves, Taylor returned for a second spell at Watford, where he recovered his old touch with back-to-back promotions to the Premier League.

This time, however, the Hornets could not avoid relegation and Taylor announced his decision to retire in 2001 - although not before becoming only the third manager to oversee 1,000 league games in England, following Brian Clough and Jim Smith.

He was tempted out of retirement and back to Aston Villa in 2002 but it was a short stay and a move Taylor later admitted he regretted.

In retirement, Taylor spent his time working as a television and radio pundit for the BBC while also helping Watford through a period of financial difficulty.

He served as the club’s chairman from 2009 until 2012 and a stand at Vicarage Road was renamed the Graham Taylor Stand in his honour in 2014. Taylor remained a cherished contributor to the town’s charity and community events and he was made an Honorary Freeman of the borough in 2001. He leaves his wife Rita and two daughters, Joanne and Karen.