Anyone who came across Ray Wilkins will know what the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho are about to tell you.
And here at talkSPORT, we knew it so well. Everything was a little brighter until Butch left us on April 4, 2018, aged 61.
Ray Wilkins left a lasting impression on everybody he met
Every morning, our former co-host would be dangerously well and everyone was his matey – from the work experience kids to the presenters.
Hello fella, hed say, with a certain warmth that you only truly feel when its gone.
Anyone who knew Ray will know the phrases, Chelsea legend Terry tells talkSPORT in a documentary celebrating the life of Wilkins, presented by his children, Ross and Jade.
Hed come in and say, Hello fella, how you doing? Id say, Alright. And hed say, Well, inform your face, fella.
It was little bits like that which put a smile on everyones face every day. He was such a great human being.
Ray the coach was loved by his players
Gianluca Vialli, who had Ray as an assistant at Chelsea and Watford, can vouch for that, too: He would say, Luca do you want a drink? Id say, No Im fine. And hed always respond, Yes Luca I know youre fine, but would you like a drink?
I find myself using the same expressions, and every time I do, I think about him.
“Hes still there, he might not be around anymore, but I think he is in a lot of peoples lives as a huge memory.
Vialli loved working with Wilkins
His charming way and chirpy manner swirls around the thoughts of Glenn Hoddle, too, who was lucky enough to call him a friend during their England playing days.
He tells talkSPORT: I often find myself thinking about Ray when Im driving to a game and little memories pop in.
“He was just a wonderful guy and we miss him so much. It was a privilege to be a friend of his.
Rays famous manners were reserved for nobody, not even his enemies, and Jose Mourinho cant forget about Wilkins either despite never working alongside him.
Every moment I shared with him was a real pleasure, even as an opponent, the Tottenham boss tells talkSPORT.
Sometimes a bad result would change your mood, you would just want to disappear. With Ray, I couldnt even remember if I won or I lost.
Whenever we played against each other, after the game, a gentleman was there. And when you are with a gentleman, you have to behave like one.
I always felt that one of his big strengths, as a person and a football man, was that everybody loved him.
I keep his smile, because I always remember that little fella with the nice smile, and I really loved him.
Mourinho and Wilkins were supposed to be rivals but became the best of friends
Most people would count themselves lucky to leave one legacy, but Ray left two: the footballer, and the gentleman.
Lets talk about the midfielder who played for Chelsea, Manchester United, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Rangers – among others.
Wilkins played like the pitch was made of carpet, but only for him. Like Nobby Stiles, Ray was ahead of his time for the way he prioritised keeping the ball, and the style with which he did it. Pep Guardiola would’ve loved him.
I think hes the kind of player where it doesnt matter about the generation, Mourinho tells talkSPORT. Sometimes there are players who you think belong to a generation and you say they were amazing 20 years ago, but now I dont think they would fit.
Ray was the kind of midfield player who would be playing for the biggest clubs in the world if he was playing today.
Ray was a player ahead of his time
- Chelsea (19731979)
- Manchester United (19791984)
- A.C. Milan (19841987)
- Paris Saint-Germain (1987)
- Rangers (19871989)
- Queens Park Rangers (19891994)
- Crystal Palace (1994)
- Queens Park Rangers (19941996)
- Wycombe Wanderers (1996)
- Hibernian (19961997)
- Millwall (1997)
- Leyton Orient (1997)
His personality translated into his play and his constant endeavour to see the best in everybody made him Chelseas youngest captain at the age of 18.
Wilkins would take the ball from players who didnt want it to help them out, and carry players who needed lifting.
Graeme Souness, his long-standing rival as a player and later Wilkins manager at Rangers, where they won the Scottish title together twice, tells talkSPORT: He would offer himself up on the pitch to take the ball off players who werent having a good time, or players who had no options.
He knew he might get a kick, but he always wanted to get on the ball. It didnt matter if he was having a great game or a bad game, he wanted the ball from the first minute to the last.
Guys like that are few and far between – he took on the responsibility for others.
Its easy to talk about his qualities as a footballer, but his qualities as a human being – he was top class. He gave me everything, both on the pitch and off the pitch.”
Wilkins was Chelsea’s youngest ever captain
Ray spent five years at Manchester United, with whom he won the FA Cup
He went on to play for AC Milan, where he came up against a certain Diego Maradona
Les Ferdinand, a teammate of Wilkins at QPR, echoes those thoughts, telling talkSPORT: As a player, Wilkins was pivotal to me in learning how to be a professional footballer. He had this special quality.
Ive come across a lot of self-centred footballers but Ray cared about everybody in the team and wanted to get the best out of them.
While another teammate, Man United and England legend Bryan Robson, was also captivated by just how good Wilkins was: He was just a great player, always wanting to receive the ball with a great passing ability, both feet.
Wilkins played at two World Cups for England and was admired by his teammates for his qualities as a player and man
He was a key part of the England team for a decade
But ask anybody how they remember Wilkins and its not the classy pass master who got 84 caps for England and scored the winner in the 1983 FA Cup final. It’s the gentleman they really remember.
Wilkins left his mark on everybody, from players, to coaches, to strangers he met on the street.
Millwall legend Neil Harris tells talkSPORT: First and foremost, before we talk about his capabilities as a coach or an assistant manager or a footballer… what a bloody nice fella.
Fella is the right word, because everybody to him was a fella. He had class about him, but real humility as well. He would talk to the tea ladies at length about what they had done at the weekend, about their families.
He just had time for people. I learnt a lot about me as a person.
- Queens Park Rangers (19941996)
- Fulham (19971998)
- Chelsea assistant (19982000)
- Watford assistant (20002002)
- Millwall assistant (20032005)
- England U21 assistant 20042007
- Chelsea assistant (20082010)
- Fulham assistant (20132014)
- Jordan (20142015)
- Aston Villa assistant (2015)
Terry and Frank Lampard, the two Chelsea icons, speak about training with Wilkins for hours after dark, not least because his knowledge made him the best person, but because his approachable way meant he was always willing – and not just with them, but with everybody at the club.
Both men have since gone into the world of management, and both of them carry Wilkins inspiration with them.
Chelsea boss Lampard tells talkSPORT: I was overwhelmed by the warmth of Ray, how engaging he was with people and how supportive he was as an ex-player.
He had an incredible touch in terms of how he communicated with people. Every time I met him, he just had a great way about him when he spoke to you.
Ive got very warm memories of working with Ray, specific memories of extra drills that we would do after training.
Anything I would ask Ray – if I wanted to do extra work on my shooting, finishing, passing – we would come up with extra drills that would help. That was a nice feeling as a player.
That common touch that Ray had, along with his football experience, is what made him so good at his job.
Ray was big on manners. He was big on calling people out behind the scenes when they deserved credit. When you make people feel special, thats a big deal.
Wilkins is still adored by football fans
He enjoyed success as a coach as well as player, winning the Premier League and FA Cup at Chelsea
Wilkins had an unforgettable way about him, which is perfectly captured by Terry, who played under Ray as a coach at Chelsea over two separate spells, the first when he was breaking into the side.
The former Chelsea captain adds: Forget about what he did as a player. As a human being, I dont think Ive come across anyone in the world of football as nice as Ray.
Ray made everyone feel like they were the most important person at the club. We were at the lowest in the club at the time, being young players, but he showed us so much respect and gave us so much time.
From the dinner ladies to the kit men, the way he spoke to people and the respect he showed was an eye-opener for us as young players. He knew everyones name, he knew their husbands, their kids names, he had time for everybody.
It was very humbling to meet such a lovely man.”
Terry gets emotional talking about Wilkins
Terry, now an assistant himself at Aston Villa, starts to tear up. He continues: Ray was very unique in what he had. He could make people smile, he could make people laugh.
Even now, it gets me emotional. Its a huge miss, not only to football, but to society. Hes someone that, now Im going into management, I think Id like a Ray Wilkins next to me.
He should be remembered first and foremost as one of the nicest human beings youll ever meet, and whenever youre down, the first person to ring is Ray Wilkins.
For me, Ray shouldve been given a knighthood. We wait until people pass, and then we do all these nice things for them. I think we missed out on the chance to tell Ray he was one of our best and we were very proud to have him as an Englishman.
Proud we were. What a fella Ray Wilkins was.
Tune into talkSPORT on Christmas Eve at 7pm to hear a very special documentary ‘Ray Wilkins: Our Dad’ as the story of the legendary Chelsea, Manchester United and England midfielder is told through the eyes of his children Ross and Jade, along with those who knew him well