Robbie Keane Paul Gascoigne, Elton John and Alan Shearer are among those who have paid tribute to his former England manager Graham Taylor, after he died aged 72.

Taylor passed away on Thursday following a suspected heart attack. He enjoyed great success in club management, particularly at Watford and Aston Villa, before taking charge of the English national team in 1990.

He took over from Bobby Robson who had led England to the semi-finals of the previous summer's World Cup in Italy, but inherited a team hampered by injuries and in transition which failed to get out of their group at Euro 92 and failed to qualify altogether for the 1994 World Cup in the United States. 

Former Republic of Ireland captain and record goalscorer Robbie Keane called Taylor an "absolute gentleman", writing on Facebook that the loss of the man who signed him as a choolboy for Wolves was "a sad day for football". 

Gascoigne was initially dropped by Taylor, which led critics of the manager to say he was unable to handle star players. A run of injuries - including the knee injury he suffered in the 1991 FA Cup final - meant he was unable to play a full part in Taylor's England reign.

The former Tottenham and Lazio star is trying to beat an addiction to alcohol but spoke fondly of Taylor when he heard the news of his death and passed on his condolences via A1 Sporting Speakers from rehab.

"I'm deeply sorry to hear about Graham Taylor. He will be a miss, and his enthusiasm for life and football was incredible. My thoughts go out to his family," he said.

Alan Shearer and Paul Merson, who both played under Taylor, also expressed their condolences.
Shearer tweeted: "Completely shocked by news of Graham Taylor. Always held him in the very highest regard - the man who gave me my first @england cap. So sad."

Merson, who was called up to the England squad by then-manager Taylor in 1991 ahead of Euro 1992, hailed the impact he had at Watford.

Taylor's achievements with the Hornets were remarkable. After taking charge in 1977, he led the club from the Fourth Division to the top tier.

They finished second in the First Division in 1983, qualifying for the UEFA Cup, and reached the FA Cup final the following year. He had a second spell at Vicarage Road from 1996 to 2001.

"I will be forever grateful," Merson told Sky Sports HQ. "He was a very honest man. What he did at Watford will never be done again in my opinion. To go through the leagues and win the league was phenomenal. To do what he did will never be done again."

Elton John, Taylor's chairman at Watford, expressed his sadness via an Instagram post.

He wrote: "I am deeply saddened and shocked to hear about Graham's passing. He was like a brother to me. We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever.

"This is a sad and dark day for Watford. The club and the town. We will cherish Graham and drown our sorrows in the many brilliant memories he gave us."

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke also paid tribute to Taylor.

Clarke said: "On behalf of everyone at The FA, I am saddened to hear this news. My thoughts are with Graham's family and friends.

"He was a hugely popular and respected figure in the game, not just in English football but in international circles as well.

"I know Graham was very proud of his time as England manager and it was always great to see him at football grounds across the country. He had an exceptional knowledge and a love for the game that never diminished over the years. He will be much missed by us all at Wembley and St. George's Park."

Former England and Arsenal striker Alan Smith expressed his sorrow at the news of Taylor's death.

"I'm totally shocked by the news. It is such a sad day, he was somebody I played for for England, and played against his Watford and Aston Villa teams," Smith told Sky Sports News.