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Singer Sir Elton John has led tributes to the former England manager Graham Taylor, who has died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 72.

A statement issued by his family said that they were announcing, with great sadness, that Mr Taylor had died at home this morning of a suspected heart attack. It said that the family was totally “devastated by this sudden and totally unexpected loss.”

Mr Taylor took up his first managerial post at Lincoln before Sir Elton, who was chairman of Watford, asked him to come to his beloved team. The manager then took the club on an incredible journey, from the fourth division into the top flight in just five years. He was there for a decade before moving on to join Aston Villa where he pulled the team up from the second to the first division.

England call

The much loved football boss then received a call up to England but things did not run smoothly. He ended up quitting in 1993 after the England team did not manage to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, held that year in America.

The Football Association has released a social media statement, expressing deep sadness at the passing of Mr Taylor. Meanwhile, Sir Elton, who became close to Mr Taylor during his two stints at Watford said he had been like a brother.

He added: “We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever. He took my beloved Watford from the depths of the lower leagues to unchartered territory and into Europe. We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius.”

Sir Elton went on to describe the news as a “sad and dark day” for the club and the town as a whole, saying his thoughts went out to all of Mr Taylor’s family.