Obituaries

Ray ‘Butch’ Wilkins, 61, World Cup midfielder for England

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 1984 file photo, AC Milan's Ray Wilkins, left, and Mark Hateley, both from England, celebrate at the end of a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan. Ray Wilkins, who captained England’s national soccer team and played for illustrious teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea and AC Milan in a 24-year career, died Wednesday April 4, 2018. He was 61. (AP Photo/Carlo Fumagalli, File)
Associated Press/Carlo Fumagalli/File
AC Milan’s Ray Wilkins (left) and Mark Hateley celebrated a win over rival Inter Milan.

NEW YORK — Ray Wilkins, an elegant midfielder who captained England’s national soccer team and played for illustrious teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, and AC Milan in a 24-year career, died Wednesday. He was 61.

St. George’s Hospital said in a statement on behalf of Mr. Wilkins’s family that he had been in an induced coma after a cardiac arrest led to a fall on Friday.

Nicknamed ‘‘Butch,’’ Mr. Wilkins played 84 times for England — captaining the team for 10 games.

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‘‘A wonderful footballer and a delightful man,’’ tweeted former England striker Gary Lineker, who played alongside Mr. Wilkins in the 1986 World Cup and finished as the tournament’s top scorer. ‘‘It was a pleasure to have played alongside him with England. No teammate was more helpful and supportive. I’ll be forever grateful.’’

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Mr. Wilkins also played for Rangers and Queens Park Rangers, among others, in a club career that ended in 1997.

He later coached Queens Park and Fulham, as well as having a brief spell in charge of Jordan’s national team. He was assistant coach at a slew of clubs, most notably Chelsea from 2008-10.

Chelsea described Mr. Wilkins as a ‘‘popular and much-loved figure’’ who was ‘‘widely regarded by the many people who met him as one of the nicest guys in football, possessing a wonderful turn of phrase and a contagious love for the sport.’’

Mr. Wilkins’s soothing voice and insight made him stand out as a commentator on British TV and radio in recent years.

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As a player, he was a technically gifted midfielder, two-footed, and an intelligent passer.

Mr. Wilkins ‘‘was the consummate midfielder who possessed brilliant footballing skills and a brain to match,’’ United said in a statement.

As a player, he won the FA Cup with United in 1983 and the Scottish league title with Rangers in 1989.

In between, he moved to AC Milan in 1984, one of the few high-profile English players to play abroad.

He played in Milan for three years before a stint at Paris Saint-Germain.

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At the international level, one of Mr. Wilkins’s most famous moments came in 1986 when he became the first England player to be sent off in a World Cup after throwing the ball at a referee during a group game against Morocco.

Mr. Wilkins leaves his wife, Jackie, two children, and several grandchildren.