Player, manager, broadcaster, gentleman. Graham Taylor was a legend of the game, and someone who had a genuine love for it.It was announced today that Taylor had passed away at the age of 72. The EFL has joined in the widespread tributes being paid to him, with EFL Chairman Ian Lenagan describing the former Watford, Aston Villa and England manager as one of football's ‘much-loved characters’.
Taylor made over 300 senior appearances as a player for Grimsby Town and Scunthorpe United, but is more likely to be remembered for his managerial achievements where he managed at all levels of the domestic game as well as taking charge of the England national team between 1990 and 1993.
His expertise and love of the game will be much missed according to Lenagan.
“Graham was a hugely influential figure throughout his long career in football - as a player, manager and pundit.
“His achievements were exceptional and he will be remembered, quite rightly, as someone who broke the mould in management and made his mark at all levels.
“He was also one of football’s most knowledgeable, personable and much-loved characters and his enthusiasm for the game will be greatly missed.”
Taylor was just 28 when he became Lincoln City manager in December 1972. He is the only manager to amass more than 70 points in a season (under the two points for a win system) on two occasions, with Lincoln City and Watford in 1978.
Taylor’s greatest achievement as a manager was during his time at Watford where he took them from the Fourth Division to the First Division in just five years. During their time in the First Division, Watford gained their highest ever victory, 8-0 against Sunderland, and finished in second place in the top flight. He then led the side to the FA Cup final the following season.
In 1987, Taylor took on a new challenge at Aston Villa, who had just been relegated from the top division. He immediately returned Villa to the First Division and after keeping Villa up the following season, he was a fraction away from winning the league title in his third season.
His achievements did not go unnoticed by the FA who were looking for a replacement for Sir Bobby Robson. In 1990, Taylor was appointed the England manager, a spell that lasted three years.
Other managerial spells came with Wolves and returns to Watford and Aston Villa. In 2003, Taylor became vice-president at his hometown club, Scunthorpe United and since 2004 has worked as a pundit on BBC Radio Five Live.
His time at Scunthorpe United saw a turnaround in the club’s fortunes. In his first season on the board, they narrowly avoided relegation to the Conference but the following season were promoted to League One and two years later were promoted to the Championship.
Taylor also served as Chairman of Watford between 2009 and 2012 and was the club’s Honorary Life President, as well as having a Vicarage Road stand named after him to honour his achievements.
As a mark of respect, the EFL has requested that all EFL clubs stage a minute’s applause ahead of their league fixture over the period Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th January.