- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

LONDON (AP) - Don Howe, a former England defender who became a key member of the England coaching staff, has died. He was 80.

Howe’s death was announced Wednesday by the English Football Association as well as West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal, two teams he played for and managed.

Arsenal chairman Chips Keswick said Howe endured a “long battle with illness,” adding that “his name will live on in the history books as one of the most influential footballing figures in the history of the club.”

The FA said “Howe became one of the most well-respected coaches in the history of the English game.”

Across the 1980s and 1990s, Howe worked under England managers Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson and Terry Venables, whose side reached the semifinals at the 1996 European Championship.

Howe won 23 caps as a player for England and scored 19 times in 379 appearances for West Brom.

He moved to Arsenal and began coaching at the north London club after retiring as a player. Howe was involved with Arsenal for five decades, joining as a player in 1964 and becoming manager in 1984. He returned as youth team coach at the Gunners in 1997 before retiring in 2003.

“He was absolutely one of the very best coaches I have ever come across in my life and, certainly in my opinion, one of the very best coaches England ever had,” said current England manager Roy Hodgson.

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