WA launched Wilkins on the world stage
RAY 'Butch' Wilkins, who burst on to the world stage as a bustling teenage midfielder the last time Chelsea were in Perth in 1974, has died at the age of 61.
The former England captain was taken to St George's Hospital in Tooting, south London, after suffering a heart attack at his home. He was placed in an induced coma but never regained consciousness and died on April 4.
Wilkins played for England 84 times, captaining his country on 10 occasions. His playing career spanned three decades and he starred for clubs in four different countries. After retiring from football in 1996, he became a manager and coach, most recently at Aston Villa.
Wilkins, who bravely battled poor health including ulcerative colitis over the last few years, was given the all clear after a double heart bypass operation last July.
Two years ago he checked into the Priory Hospital in Woking for a five-week rehabilitation programme after being banned from driving for four years for drink-driving.
Yet the popular former Chelsea, Manchester United and AC Milan midfielder continued to work in the media on a regular basis and was held in the highest regard by everyone in football.
Born in Hillingdon, Middlesex, Wilkins came through the ranks at his boyhood club Chelsea and made his first-team debut against Norwich City, coming on as a sub at the age of 17 in 1973.
Dave Sexton was manager at the time and he had no hesitation in including the talented Wilkins in his squad which faced the WA State team in front of 15,000 at Perry Lakes Stadium in May, 1974.
His older brother Graham, a full-back, also played against WA. Chelsea won 1-0 with a goal from Ian Hutchinson.
Wilkins would go on to play 179 league matches for Chelsea over the next six years having been appointed club captain at just 18 by new manager Eddie McCreadie.
After relegation in 1978-79, Chelsea accepted an offer of £800,000 from Manchester United and Wilkins was on his way north.
He made 160 league appearances for the Old Trafford club and helped them win the FA Cup in 1983, defeating Brighton and Hove Albion in the final.
In 1984, United sold Wilkins to Italian giants Milan for £1.5million and he spent three years with the club before a brief spell at Paris Saint-Germain and two years at Rangers.
Wilkins returned to London in 1989, spending five seasons with Queens Park Rangers and amassing over 150 league appearances.
He also represented Crystal Palace, Wycombe, Hibernian, Millwall and Leyton Orient in the twilight of his playing career.
Wilkins was called up to play for England by Don Revie in 1976, making his debut against Italy during a tournament in the United States.
He quickly became an established name in the team, helping England qualify for the 1980 European Championships, their first finals in a decade.
Wilkins began his coaching career with QPR in 1996 and was later associated with many clubs, either as an assistant or manager. These inclued Fulham, Chelsea, Watford, Millwall, England's under-21s and the Jordan national team.
Chelsea, who also played in WA in 1965, will return to Perth to face Perth Glory in what is expected to be a blockbuster international challenge at the new Optus Stadium on July 23.