Ray Wilkins was living alone but close to reconciling with wife Jackie

Football star Ray Wilkins was living alone but was close to patching things up with his estranged wife when he died aged 61 says friend

  • He and Jackie were just months away from celebrating their 40th anniversary
  • TV pundit had moved into a rented flat in Kingston-upon-Thames, SW London
  • A local landlord said how Wilkins was a regular but that he never had more than a half pint while he watched football on the big screens 

Football star Ray Wilkins was living apart from his wife of nearly 40 years when he died after suffering a heart attack earlier this month.

Tragically, the Manchester United star was close to patching things up with Jackie in the months before his death.

Wilkins, 61, was given a secret family funeral near his £1.2million family home in Cobham, Surrey, reports the Mirror.

Jackie, 63, attended alongside their children Ross, 36, and Jade, 32.

Ray and Jackie pose with the FA Cup in 1983 alongside son Ross who has spoken of his father’s secret funeral

In the months before his death Wilkins – who won 84 England caps – had moved into a rented top-floor flat in Kingston-upon-Thames, South West London, nine miles away.

He spent his final days living alone.

A close friend of the family said: ‘Ray and Jackie had been having a tough time and he had been living away from home the last few months.

‘But they were still in contact and it was obvious neither of them had ever stopped loving each other.’

The couple were due to celebrate their 40th anniversary at the end of the year. 

Wilkins had battled publicly with alcoholism and depression, speaking openly about the toll it took on his marriage.

In 2016 he was charged for a third drinking driving offence in four years. He admitted to a court he knew his marriage was on the rocks – and that it might soon end if he did not stop drinking.

In his final months the TV pundit was spotted visiting the Willoughby Arms pub near his new home.

Every Saturday he would arrive to watch football on its big screens.

Ray Wilkins (pictured with Jackie at Buckingham Palace after receiving the MBE) lived alone in Kingston-upon-Thames in his final months

The couple had became estranged but were on the verge of reconciliation, a source has said

Landlord Rick Robinson, 56, told how Wilkins came in for the first time in February and returned every Saturday to watch the early games.

He noted how people left the ex-England captain in peace with few asking for autographs.

Ray was not drinking to excess in the months before he died, the proprietor added.

‘He’d only have half a coke or half a lager when he came in. The most he had was two halves of lager while watching a game,’ he told.

‘We thought he was bouncing back from his previous problems. That was what made it even more shocking when he died.’ 

Ray Wilkins carried out media duties on talkSPORT and Sky Sports the week before his death

His son Ross said yesterday of the secret funeral: ‘Everyone has their demons, but they’d found a way to deal with their problems. They were on the verge of getting back together, which makes it all the more tragic.’

A formal public memorial ceremony will be held on Tuesday hosted by Chelsea FC.

Chelsea-legend 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 1997, 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.

Wilkins pictured playing for Manchester United as he tries to tackle Diego Maradona in 1984

Wilkins (pictured right playing against Holland) made 84 appearances for England. During his career he also played overseas, representing AC Milan (pictured right) and Paris Saint-Germain

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.

He had carried out media duties on talkSPORT and Sky Sports, performing as a regular pundit on both platforms shortly before suffering the cardiac arrest.

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