Former Chelsea captain and, later, assistant manager Ray Wilkins was much-loved for his kindness, graciousness and warm personality — that’s the message from an outpouring of condolences on social media in the hours since the shocking news of his passing away on Wednesday. Throughout his 25-year playing career followed by another couple decades behind the scenes, on the training ground, or in front of the microphone, Wilkins made many friends and won many admirers.
The outpouring of affection for “Butch” from not just around England, but worldwide has been beyond touching. Here’s just a brief sampling of it.
From journalist Dan Levene, one of the foremost voices online about Chelsea.
Devastated to learn to the death of Ray Wilkins, aged just 61. Chelsea, man and boy: from club captain at 18, to double-winning coach, to caretaker boss (and fan). Honestly, one of the greatest guys I've ever met in football. A one-off. Love & best wishes to his family. RIP, Ray.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) April 4, 2018
From Carlo Ancelotti, his boss in the Double season of 2009-10.
Today is a very sad day, we have lost a fantastic person and a good friend. It was a pleasure to work with you, Ray. All of my best wishes go to Jackie, Jade and Ross. RIP pic.twitter.com/XL8aWZCq9Q— Carlo Ancelotti (@MrAncelotti) April 4, 2018
From Eddie Hearn, former owner of Leyton Orient, for whom Wilkins played the final three games of his playing career.
Rest in peace Ray Wilkins..had the pleasure of having him at @leytonorientfc - my old man said he was the classiest, most polite and respectful player he ever came across— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) April 4, 2018
From players he made feel welcome.
I’ll never forget my first day at Harlington in August 1999. You approached me with your big smile and your gentleman-like ways saying “benvenuto al Chelsea!“. Being a big @acmilan fan, my journey at CFC couldn’t have started better. That smile will be hugely missed. RIP, Ray— Carlo Cudicini (@Capitancarloc) April 4, 2018
Devastated to hear the news that Ray Wilkins has passed away. He was a great player and an even greater man. Full of kindness and humility, with impeccable manners at all times. He had respect and time for everyone and to me he was a mentor and a friend. I’m not sure they make them like Ray anymore. You will be sorely missed fella. X
And not just at Chelsea.
I will always be proud to say how lucky I am to have been coached, managed and even meet you. 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 name 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 your number 18, here are your boots and shin pads , just go and play, have fun and treat it like your 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. 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 ⚪️ #raywilkins #legend #football #pureclass #qpr
So upset to hear the news of Ray Wilkins. RIP Ray. Even when Ray left villa, he was always ringing me offering advice and telling me what I could do to improve. A true gentleman and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/SO6FydGMlQ— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish1) April 4, 2018
Several tributes at AC Milan, for whom Wilkins played from 1984 to 1987, ahead of today’s Derby della Madonnina against Internazionale.
Franco Baresi leads the tributes for former AC Milan team-mate Ray Wilkins ahead of tonight's Milan Derby. pic.twitter.com/tOVqjYCaSr— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 4, 2018
From England teammate Gary Lineker.
From the denizens of The Shed, coming up this weekend.
Weʼre raising £170 to create a 63 meter spray-painted, worded display for Ray Wilkins. Sadly there is not enough time to create any other kind of display, however we will make sure this will pay the ultimate respects to the #CFC legend - https://t.co/CXmMZBLfBO #RIPRayWilkins— WE ARE THE SHED (@WeAre_TheShed) April 4, 2018
For those who never had the pleasure of seeing him play, a tribute to his skill.
Ray Wilkins RIP. Such sad news pic.twitter.com/5f6JrsN8rt— @forgottengoals (@forgottengoals) April 4, 2018
And finally, the man himself, showing that decency was at the core of his being. RIP, Ray.
"I don't find being considerate - and trying to help people - a weakness" Ray Wilkins on Sporting Greats in 1999. pic.twitter.com/PsCCsbPR1x— BBC Archive (@BBCArchive) April 4, 2018
Ed.note: Ray Wilkins, born in Hillingdon, about 10 miles from Stamford Bridge, was as Chelsea as they come. Even after leaving to play for the likes of Manchester United, AC Milan, PSG, Rangers, and QPR, not to mention throughout his punditry career, he remained a True Blue. We may not have always agreed with him, but there’s no doubt he always had the best interests of Chelsea in mind.
Ray Wilkins interviewed in our Eddie Mac book - "I’m Chelsea and always will be. I remember the first time I came back, someone said to me, 'What are you doing back here? You’re a red!' I retorted, I’ve never been a red, I am Chelsea!” - @onlyapound @eddiemacbawa @ChelseaKelv pic.twitter.com/IuZRaIifvv— Mark Worrall (@gate17marco) April 4, 2018
As Carlo Ancelotti famously wrote in one of his books, Wilkins had Chelsea “flowing in his veins” and without him, “we wouldn’t have won a thing”.
"at the end of the day [...] you have to win, and that's what we do"— Dávid Pásztor (@D_Peezy) April 4, 2018
"and that's what the game is all about; if you want to be the best, you have to work at it"https://t.co/Yn8WMBOJdo
Rest in peace, Ray.