This conversation is with Ugo Ehiogu, whom I just met in Great Britain. He was a former English professional footballer. If you’re in the states you would call him a soccer player.
He had a long career- from 1989 to 2009 and at the time I met him he was the coach of the Tottenham Hotspur under-23 team.
Ugo had this inner brilliance, this humility and thoughtfulness that was apparent right from the first interaction.
It was the handshake and the eye contact that gave it away.
It was the combination of the way that he carried himself with the words that he chose and maybe even more striking was the care that he took to choose the words to find the most authentic way to express what he’s come to understand.
Ugo and I were not able to finish this conversation and it’s heartbreaking. It’s for two reasons.
The first made sense. He needed to run out onto the field and begin his coaching for his under-23 team.
The second reason is harder to process.
Ugo passed away at the age of 44, after suffering a cardiac arrest at the club’s training ground before we were able to reconnect. And I think probably a lot of people would say before they were able to reconnect with him, which is the tragic part of it.
I can only imagine what it’s like for his wife, his family, and his children.
And so with the highest regard for the man that I briefly met and condolences to his family, I did as much reading as I possibly could to understand his life and his death.
So many of the people that commented on who he is — players and coaches and friends — described him as a great player and a wonderful human.
I feel fortunate to have had this conversation and to have had a brief interaction with him and I’m honored to be able to hopefully celebrate his genius and it does come through in the short time that we spent together.
Thank you Ugo for the time that we spent sharing your insights and reminding us all of how important it is to love.
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“There are parts of me that are still molding but there will be some fun, some hard work, some happiness, some tears, and some love.”
In This Episode:
- Avoiding anxiousness as a player because he knew he had prepared right
- Moving from Nigeria to London for his dad’s electrical engineering job at a young age
- Why work ethic and education defined his family values
- The connection between education and being able to communicate in any circle
- How he came to fall in love with the game of soccer
- The weird feeling he experienced when his parents showed off his trophies
- Getting robbed and becoming aware of the injustices around him
- Bridging the gap between his black and white friends
- Why he always liked to see the best in people
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