The game of football has been quick to pay tribute to Ugo Ehiogu after his sudden death at the age of just 44.

He suffered a cardiac arrest at Tottenham Hotspur's training ground on Thursday, where he had been working as the Under-23 coach for the past three years. Ehiogu passed away in the early hours of Friday morning. He leaves behind his wife Gemma and two children.

The bulk of Ehiogu's playing career was spent at Aston Villa where he turned out over 300 times. He also spent seven productive years at Middlesbrough and had spells at West Bromwich Albion, Rangers, Leeds United and Sheffield United.

Ehiogu's death has left the football world stunned.

Wealth of tributes

England manager Gareth Southgate, who played together with Ugo for the majority of his career said: "He was one of the most professional people I played with in terms of how he applied himself to his job and it was great to see him progressing through the coaching pathway with that thirst for learning. Ugo was a credit to football, a credit to his family and he will be missed by everybody who was lucky enough to know him."

Another of his former teammates was Paul Merson and he was visibly upset, his emotion clear to see on Sky Sports News earlier on Friday. Fighting back the tears, he said: "I'm still devastated. He was such a top bloke, it's unbelievable.

He was a man mountain."

Other tributes have been flooding in on social media for a man who was deeply respected, much-liked and admired within the game.

League Cup glory

Born in Hackney, Ehiogu turned professional in 1989 with West Bromwich Albion. He only played a couple of games for the Baggies' before being snapped up by Ron Atkinson in August 1991 for a meagre £40,000.

Ehiogu played a back-up role in the club's run to the 1994 League Cup final but didn't play in the showpiece event against Manchester United which the Midlands' side won 3-1. He got his winners' medal two years later though, as Villa, now with Brian Little in charge defeated Leeds United 3-0.

By now, Ehiogu was paired together with Southgate after the latter's arrival that summer from relegated Crystal Palace.

They formed a strong and combative central defensive partnership which ensured Villa finished no lower than eighth in the Premier League between 1995 and 2000. He also played in the 2000 FA Cup final against Chelsea, finishing on the beaten side in the final match to played inside Wembley's famous Twin Towers.

In October 2000, Ehiogu opted for a fresh challenge and left Villa to join Bryan Robson at Middlesbrough for £8million. He sustained a calf injury just five minutes into his Boro debut against Charlton and a constant battle with injuries would follow over the next decade of his playing career. Nevertheless, he was still a colossal figure at the back for Boro. He was a leader. He was someone the youngsters could look upto as an exemplary role model.

Reunited with Southgate, they were the cornerstones to another League Cup triumph, this time in 2004 over Bolton Wanderers at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. It is still Middlesbrough's only major silverware to-date.

Old Firm Special

An unused substitute in the 2006 UEFA Cup final, Ehiogu left Middlesbrough a year later. He had a brief loan spell at Leeds, before spending one year in Scotland with Rangers. He scored a spectacular overhead kick goal in an Old Firm Derby win over Celtic which was voted the club's Goal of the Season by the supporters.

His final club was Sheffield United, turning out 26 times for the Blades, scoring once before injury struck again. After a trial with Milton Keynes Dons, Ehiogu hung up his boots in August 2009.

Injuries and a strong defensive pool of talent meant international opportunities were sadly limited for Ehiogu. His maiden cap for England came before EURO 96, coming on as a substitute against China in Beijing. Five years later, he featured on three further occasions, scoring a headed goal against Spain which fittingly came at Villa Park. That game was Sven-Goran Eriksson's first in charge of the Three Lions.

After retirement, Ehiogu set-up his own record label and began a promising coaching career, first with England at the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cup before joining Tottenham's academy a year later. Among the English youngsters he worked with include Harry Kane, John Stones, Ross Barkley and James Ward-Prowse.

Ugo Ehiogu was a strong, physical and fearsome player but a loyal and down-to-earth individual who made many friends and won respect from a host of people within the game. His death is an untimely loss for football and especially for his family. He will be sorely missed.