Former England captain Wilkins dies aged 61

Former England captain Ray Wilkins has died aged 61, it has been confirmed by his family.

It had been reported that Wilkins, who played for clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and AC Milan, was critically ill following a heart attack.

A statement released by his family via St George's Hospital in London, where he was treated, confirmed his passing on Wednesday.

"It is with great sadness we announce that Raymond Colin Wilkins passed away this morning," the statement said.

"We would like to thank St George's staff for the amazing work they have done to care for our beloved Ray. 

"We would also like to say thank you for the many goodwill messages we have received from Ray's friends, colleagues, and members of the public. 

"Ray leaves behind his loving wife, Jackie, daughter Jade, son Ross, and his beautiful grandchildren, Oliver, Frankie, Ava, Freddie, Jake and Archie. 

"We are asking for privacy at this very difficult time."

Chelsea were among the clubs to respond to the news when it emerged on Wednesday.

"Everybody associated with Chelsea Football Club is devastated to learn of the passing of our former player, captain and assistant coach, Ray Wilkins," the club posted on Twitter.

"Rest in peace, Ray, you will be dreadfully missed."

Manchester United also paid tribute on social media, adding: "The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Manchester United are with the family, friends and colleagues of our former midfielder Ray Wilkins, following his tragic passing."

Wilkins won 84 England caps between 1976 and 1986, retiring from club football after leaving Leyton Orient in 1997.

As well as taking various assistant roles, he managed QPR, Fulham and Jordan.

Gary Lineker was an England team-mate of Wilkins and he too added his sympathies.

"Deeply saddened to hear that Ray Wilkins has passed away," Lineker wrote on Twitter.

"A wonderful footballer and a delightful man. It was a pleasure to have played alongside him with England.

"No team-mate was more helpful and supportive. I'll be forever grateful. Thoughts are with his family."

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