Ugo Ehiogu Remembered
By Rob Nichols
Tuesday 21 Apr 2020 16:54:00
Browse all Boro Views articles

It was a dark day on 21 April 2017 when news broke that Ugo Ehiogu had collapsed at the Spurs training ground and died at the age of just 44. But now lets celebrate the career of one of our very finest defenders, forever remembered as one half of the silver shield that brought us home for the Carling Cup victory at Wembley in 2004.

That last ditch lunge of throwing his body on the line was as big a moment as Job's early strike, Zenden's double hit penalty or Schwarzer's recovery save in securing Boro's first major trophy. The ending of the 128 years of hurt was as much down to Ugo's incredible block as the strikers for grabbing the 2 goals lead. For that moment alone Ugo will always be remembered, respected and appreciated at Boro.

When Steve McClaren moved to reunite Ugo with his former Villa defensive partner Gareth Southgate he built the rock on which the most successful Boro side of all time was founded. When we think of great defensive partnerships at Boro there have been quite a few that stand out in modern times. Boam and Maddren were the bedrock of Jack Charlton's champions. Later on Bruce Rioch built his phoenix from the flames around the Mowbray and Pallister partnership. Would the Robson Revolution have foundered if we could have twinned Pearson and Festa through the whole of a Premier campaign?

In Ehiogu and Southgate we paired up two England internationals. They had played side by side at Villa Park and at Boro they clicked back into place and like Boam and Maddren or Mowbray and Pallister they complimented each other perfectly.

Ugo had made his debut for Bryan Robson away at Charlton but disastrously left the field injured after only five minutes of play. That false start at the unhappy Valley was the first of many injuries that might have blighted a Boro career. Yet each time the England international bounced back stronger like a rock, to fit in hand in glove with Southgate to seal off our defences.

Big Ugo was formidable at the back, powerful in the air, strong as an ox on the deck and never ever giving any less than 100%. He would run through walls for the cause. A real fan favourite, he was also popular for the threat he posed at the other end of the field, when he shattered defensive walls.

If you cannot beat him sign him, Bryan Robson may well have thought this as Ugo rose high, neck muscles straining to crash home a header past Schwarzer at Villa Park v Boro. From the moment he pulled on a red shirt he was a constant source of strife for opponents at every set piece. Just how do you stop a battering ram like Ugo?

After having been out injured for much of the season Ugo Ehiogu stepped forward to take on Bolton Wanderers in the Carling Cup final. It was much to the disappointment of Ugo's very able young deputy, Chris Riggott. Yet in our hour or minute of need and with the clock running down it was Ehiogu that saved our bacon and saved the cup final win.

We will always be thankful to you big Ugo because it was that interception in the Millennium Stadium that broke the old Middlesbrough mould and made the perennial also-rans Middlesbrough into winners.

This is a celebration then of a real winner who changed the face of Boro forever - Ugo Ehiogu RIP

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