Nigel Quashie Pays Tribute To Ray Wilkins For Kickstarting His Football Career
Footballer Nigel Quashie has paid tribute to Ray Wilkins, the former England player who passed away yesterday at the age of 61, following a heart attack.
"I will always be proud to say how lucky I am to have been coached, managed and even meet you," Quashie posted on his Instagram page.
"If it wasn't for you I would never have started my career playing football and will never forget going to Manchester United as a YTS trainee to do all the kit and boots in the changing room for the first team squad.
"1hr 30 mins before kick off you named the team and I was in it and that's how my debut went. I didn't even get to think about it because all you said was: 'You're number 18, here are your boots and shin pads, just go and play, have fun and treat it like you're over the park with your mates.'
"My mum never had a mobile phone back then because we couldn't afford anything like that and everything went through her work or home phone."
"I asked you after the game if I could call home to speak to her, you said: 'Use my mobile and call this number' - it was my mum on the other end of the line and she said she was outside by the away team bus.
"I went outside to see her and asked: 'How did you get here?' because I knew she couldn't afford it.
"She told me Ray had got the club to pay for her train ticket to come to the game, and then told me Ray got the club to give us our first mobile phone in life during the week and he wanted to surprise me, knowing I was making my debut.
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"I was given a chance by Ray Wilkins - one of the legends of the game - and to this day you are the first person I mention when it comes to football and that will never change.
"You will be missed so much not just in the football world but as a real human being with such class.
"Thanks for everything and my thoughts go to all the family. Sleep well Sir Ray Wilkins."
Wilkins had handed Quashie his professional debut for Queens Park Rangers against Manchester United, who were then vying with Blackburn Rovers for the Premier League title, even though the young footballer was only a trainee.
Quashie travelled to Manchester with the senior side, tentatively to help out with kit duties, but was informed by Wilkins that he had his own set of boots and a shirt emblazoned with his name, and would be playing in the match.
Wilkins went into an induced coma following a heart attack in late March, and sadly died ealier this week, prompting Quashie to recall the incident in detail.
In a storied career, Wilkins played for clubs including Manchester United, Chelsea and Milan, and earned 84 caps for England.
RIP Ray Wilkins.
Featured Image Credit: PA