The former footballer-turned-actor was 12 when he first met his wife, going on to date as teens before they went their separate ways and Vinnie went to Leeds to play the sport.
He later returned south when he signed with Chelsea and reconnected with Tanya, and the pair married in 1994 in Watford.
They renewed their vows in style in Las Vegas in 2007 – with Vinnie donning the same purple suit he’d worn for their original nuptials – and have battled cancer together.
Tanya leaves behind her daughter Kaley from her first marriage.
Vinnie has previously gushed about how lucky he was to have met his wife of 25 years, describing her as “the most incredible person”.
“I think we’re the perfect match and I was lucky to find it,” he said.
The couple left the UK to move to Los Angeles so Vinnie could pursue his acting career.
Their marriage survived Vinnie’s battle with booze, brushes with the law and a kiss with another woman, which he said was a set-up.
Back in 2012, booze led Vinnie to trouble when he was snapped kissing a girl he met in a club.
The fact the footage immediately went online proves it was a set-up, he said – but Tanya was furious.
However, the couple were brought closer together in spite of the blip, and even more so when they discovered they were fighting skin cancer at the same time.
It was 2013 when Vinnie revealed they were both suffering from melanoma , the most serious form of skin cancer.
And Tanya, who had an emergency heart transplant at the age of 21, had already been treated twice for cervical cancer.
Vinnie had found a lump under his eye, and a check-up revealed it was malignant melanoma. Then Tanya developed the same illness. They fought it together, as a couple, and successfully.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror in 2017 he said: “We’ve been through a lot with my wife and her health. She’s has to take a lot of medication for her heart transplant, so what I had was minimal compared to what she’s been through.”
He said of Tanya’s own health battle: “She’s the most incredible person. I think we’re the perfect match and I was lucky to find it.”
Asked for the secret to their long relationship, Vinnie said in 2017: “It’s about having a laugh and spending quality time together.”
The hardman actor, who has a son Aaron, 27, from a previous relationship, had asked for his wife’s hand in marriage just a couple of years after her transplant.
He recalled in an interview with the Guardian how her dad said he was taking on a lot of responsibility: “We’d been together for two years when I went to her dad and said I wanted to marry her.
“He said, ‘You know what you’re taking on?’ And I said: ‘Yeah, I do know and I’m going to take care of her and look after her.’ I feel she was saved to save me, and I was meant to look after her.”
Tanya’s illness returned and she was faced with another cancer battle, sadly losing her life on Saturday July 6.
The 53-year-old passed away at their home in Los Angeles surrounded by her loved ones.
A source said: “Tanya had been ill for quite a while. But the last two or three weeks her condition really deteriorated.
“Vinnie has been by her bedside. It’s heartbreaking news.”
The insider said the believed Vinnie had been in the UK and flown back when he heard her condition was getting worse.
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