TRIBUTES & OBITUARIES
Gary Speed obituary: Ivan Ponting Monday 28th November 2011
Gary Speed: Footballer and Wales manager whose playing career spanned 22 years
From the time he riveted attention as the brilliant baby of the beautifully balanced Leeds United midfield which was so integral to the Yorkshiremen's league title triumph of 1991-92, right through until he presided inspirationally over the unexpected recent renaissance of Wales as a force in international football, Gary Speed, who has apparently committed suicide, barely put a foot wrong.
As a player for Leeds, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United, and for his country – between 1990 and 2004 he earned 85 caps, a record for an outfielder and second only to goalkeeper Neville Southall – invariably he was a colossally influential and versatile all-round performer. As one of the most promising young managers in the world game, his potential for long-term success appeared to be limitless; and as a character he was widely cherished as a down-to-earth, loyal, industrious, good-humoured individual, one of the most popular figures in Welsh sport.
After rising through the youth ranks at Elland Road, Speed made his senior debut as a 19-year-old left-sided midfielder during 1988-89, then earned a regular place towards the end of the following season, which Leeds finished on top of the old Second Division, the equivalent of today's Championship. Undaunted by elevation to the elite grade, the Welsh rookie rapidly became a key part of a superb centre-field quartet which also included the experienced and gifted Scottish duo Gordon Strachan and Gary McAllister, and the vigorous young local boy David Batty. They gelled together fluently, with Speed based on the left flank, majoring on pace and athleticism, a prodigious work ethic and a stupendous aerial ability which was seen to maximum effect through his priceless knack of arriving late in opposing penalty boxes to direct powerful headers towards goal. In 1991-92, when Leeds deservedly outstripped Manchester United to become the last English champions of the pre-Premier League era, Speed contributed seven League goals, missed only one match and was named by manager Howard Wilkinson as his player of the season. Clearly one of the outstanding prospects on the British scene, and a key member of the Wales team after making his full international entrance against Costa Rica in August 1990, Speed could contemplate the future with unbounded optimism, not least because if necessary he could fill virtually any position bar goalkeeper. But with Leeds failing to keep pace with the gathering force of Alex Ferguson's Old Trafford empire, a sense grew that the exhilaratingly talented Welshman's career could do with some fresh impetus, and it seemed that might be achieved when he was sold to Everton, the club he had adored all his life, for £3.5m in July 1996. It seemed to be a dream move as he was greeted rapturously by the Goodison fans, and he was made captain at the outset of 1997-98, but while Speed did well enough personally, the Toffees toiled collectively and soon he outraged his erstwhile admirers by demanding a transfer. Duly in February 1998 he was sold to Newcastle for £5.5m, and at St James' Park he continued to mature into one of the finest midfielders in the land, especially after moving from the left to a central position. Now he shone whether deployed as an anchorman or with a more attacking brief. His control, distribution, shooting, stamina and courage, his spring-heeled excellence in the air, his reading of the game, his composure under pressure and his leadership qualities, everything was impeccable and the Magpies always looked a far better side with Speed than without him. He spent six years on Tyneside, experiencing FA Cup final defeats to Arsenal in 1998 and Manchester United in 1999, and sampling a taste of the Champions League, before switching to Bolton for £750,000 in July 2004. Yet again he contributed consistently, in 2006 becoming the first man to reach 500 Premier League appearances. Early in 2008, by now in his 40th year, Speed joined second-flight Sheffield United, initially on loan, and featured regularly for the Blades – scoring a league goal for the 20th successive season – till laid low by back trouble in November 2008. He announced his retirement as a player in 2010, having made nearly 700 league appearances in his 22 years as a professional, and had served only four months as Bramall Lane boss when he was made manager of Wales that December. At that point expectations were low, but Speed proceeded to confound them comprehensively. Although he would always be honoured for his international service on the pitch, which included captaining the side 44 times and scoring seven goals, few if any observers believed that he would bring about a swift and dramatic upturn in his nation's fortunes. But he did. In the 10 games before his shocking death, he oversaw five victories, culminating in three in quick succession, the most recent being a 4-1 drubbing of Norway in a friendly at Cardiff earlier this month. In the process Wales climbed into the world ranking list's top 50, and suddenly the Principality's footballing future looked dazzlingly bright. It was a stunning development, and it was all down to Gary Speed.
Gary Andrew Speed, footballer and manager: born Mancot, Flintshire 8 September 1969; played for Leeds United 1988-96, Everton 1996-98, Newcastle United 1998-2004, Bolton Wanderers 2004-08, Sheffield United 2008; capped 85 times by Wales 1990-2004; managed Sheffield United 2010, Wales 2010-11; MBE 2010; married Louise (two sons); died Huntington, Cheshire 26th or 27th November 2011.
Gary Speed obituary: The Guardian: Nick Szczepanik Monday 28th November 2011
Manager of the Wales football team and versatile midfielder in the Premier League
The Wales football manager Gary Speed, who has died at the age of 42 after apparently taking his own life, was an outstanding footballer and promised to be equally successful in this new phase of his career. But while he had been in charge of the national side for only 10 games, his playing career was long and distinguished.
A skilful, athletic and versatile left-sided attacking midfield player, Speed was also an exceptional header of the ball and had a healthy knack of scoring goals. He represented Wales and four different Premier League clubs – Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers – during a 22-year club career. His longevity at the top level of the game was underpinned by a remarkable dedication to his profession. One of the first British players fully to embrace new ideas about fitness and nutrition, his success can be judged by the fact that only two players, Ryan Giggs and David James, have surpassed his total of 535 Premier League appearances, while he holds the record for the most appearances for Wales by an outfield player – 85 – made over 14 years. He won the only major honour of his career, the Football League championship, early in his career, with Leeds in 1991-92, the last season before the formation of the Premier League, but appeared in two FA Cup finals with Newcastle, and acquired a reputation as a leader and model for other players. He captained most of the teams he played for at some time, including Everton, the club he supported as a boy. He was appointed MBE in 2010 for his services to football.
Born in Mancot, Flintshire, Speed was the only Welshman in his family, his parents, sister and children all being born in Chester. He went to Hawarden high school and played regularly for Flintshire Schoolboys and Aston Park Rangers before joining Leeds straight from school in June 1988. He made his first-team debut at 19 for the club then in the second division, helping win promotion for Howard Wilkinson's team in 1989-90, his second full season, and winning his first Welsh cap against Costa Rica in May 1990. Although he also played as a defender and forward – "I think I played him in every position," Wilkinson said – he became a regular on the left of a midfield that also included Gary McAllister, David Batty and Gordon Strachan, a formidable quartet that would help the team to win the championship in 1992, ahead of Manchester United. However, Leeds failed to build on that success, and after 312 games and 57 goals for his first club Speed jumped at the chance to join Everton in 1996, for £3.5m. He signed a five-year contract and finished his first season as the Toffees' player of the year, being made captain of his club, as he was for his country, at the beginning of the 1997-98 season. However, what should have been a dream for the boyhood Evertonian began to turn sour. There were rumours, never fully substantiated, of fallings-out behind the scenes, and Speed moved to Newcastle for £5.5m in 1998 after only 65 games and 17 goals. He was to play 284 times for the Magpies, including defeats in the FA Cup finals of 1998, by Arsenal, and 1999, by Manchester United. However, although titles eluded him, he also played in the Champions League while on Tyneside and kept up his scoring record, netting 40 times. In July 2004 he moved on to Bolton for £750,000, and it was while at the Reebok Stadium that he became the first player to make 500 Premier League appearances, in a 4–0 victory over West Ham. He also, in May 2007, took his first steps into coaching. The following October he decided to concentrate solely on playing again, but in the new year he left the top flight, signing for Sheffield United. A back injury suffered in November 2008 prompted Kevin Blackwell, the manager, to suggest a permanent move to a coaching role, an opportunity that Speed grasped with relish. Three games into the 2010-11 season, Blackwell was sacked and Speed promoted into his first managerial post, but he was not to stay long in the Bramall Lane chair. In December 2010, he was named as the successor to John Toshack as Wales manager, the Welsh FA paying compensation to United. Although Speed had presided over five victories and five defeats in his 10 matches in charge of the principality, there were plenty of encouraging signs in Speed's stewardship, not least that four of the wins came in the past five games, with an unlucky 1-0 defeat by England at Wembley the only blemish. "He completely transformed the Welsh situation from one of despair to one of hope and expectation," his former Wales teammate Mark Bowen said. "The players liked him and had a real bond with him that showed in games. Everyone was really excited."
Speed is survived by his wife, Louise, and two sons.
• Gary Andrew Speed, footballer and manager, born 8th September 1969; died 27th November 2011
Gary Speed obituary: The Telegraph: 27th November 2011
Gary Speed, who has died aged 42, enjoyed a remarkably long career as a professional footballer and was Wales’s second most capped player; since December last year he had been coach of the Welsh national side. As a player, Speed took a midfield role and was noted for his efficiency, intelligence and his commitment to the team; he also showed himself to be a natural leader, a quality that later found expression in his coaching role. The high point of his career was his eight years with Leeds United, for whom he made his debut in 1988 at the age of 19. Playing alongside Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty, he played an important part when Leeds won the First Division title 1992. In all, he made more than 300 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring 57 goals.
Gary Andrew Speed was born at Mancot, in Flintshire, on 8th September 1969 and educated at Hawarden High School. As a boy he supported Everton. In fact, he left Leeds United for Everton in 1996, remaining with the club until February 1998, when Newcastle United bought him for £5.5 million. He played on Tyneside for six years, scoring 40 times for the club, and featuring in the club’s FA Cup Final defeats by Arsenal in 1998 and Manchester United in 1999. In July 2004 Speed moved to Bolton Wanderers. Three years later , after Sam Allardyce stepped down as manager of the club, Speed briefly replaced him, but soon returned to his playing role. Then, in the New Year of 2008, he was signed by Sheffield United. By now he was in the autumn of his career, and although he remained with the club until September 2010, he was troubled by a back injury and made only 37 league appearances, latterly assuming a coaching role at the club. Speed held the record for the most appearances in the Premier League at 535, until it was surpassed by David James. After winning his first cap in 1994, he played 85 times for Wales, and was captain of the side on 44 occasions. He retired from international football in 2004, having scored seven goals for his country. Only the goalkeeper Neville Southall has won more caps for Wales.
Early in the 2010–11 season, Sheffield United’s manager, Kevin Blackwell, was sacked, and Speed replaced him on a three-year contract. Within three months, however, he had been appointed manager of Wales, in succession to John Toshack. After being paid compensation by the Football Association of Wales, Sheffield United released Speed from his contract. Speed’s first game as Wales manager was on February 8 2011, against the Republic of Ireland, in the Nations Cup; the Irish won 3-0. In the Euro 2012 qualifier at home to England, Wales lost 2-0; and by September this year Wales had slumped to 117 in the FIFA rankings, their worst ever position. But Speed kept faith with his young players, having controversially appointed Arsenal’s 20-year-old midfielder Aaron Ramsey captain of the national side. On 2nd September Wales beat Montenegro 2-1 at Cardiff. They then lost 1-0 away to England, but beat Switzerland 2-0 at home and Bulgaria 1-0 in Sofia. They are now ranked 45th in the world by FIFA. On November 12 Wales beat Norway 4-1 in a friendly. Speed’s ambition — which he called “the project” — was to take Wales to the next World Cup finals, in Brazil.
Gary Speed, who was appointed MBE for his services to football in 2010, was much sought after as a pundit and once considered taking up sports journalism after the end of his playing career. He was found dead at his home at Cheshire, and is thought to have taken his own life. He is survived by his wife, Louise, and their two sons.
Gary Speed, born 8th September 1969, died 27th November 2011
Gary Speed obituary: By Daily Mail Reporter 28th November 2011
20 years at the top of his game: The life and times of Gary Speed
With a glittering professional playing career behind him and already winning plaudits as Wales manager, few can understand what would have led Gary Speed to take his own life in such tragic circumstances.
Gary Andrew Speed was born on 8th September 1969, in Mancot, Wales. He was a pupil at Deeside Primary School, which also produced Welsh footballers Ian Rush, Barry Horne and England's Michael Owen. Later he turned out for Flintshire Schoolboys while attending Hawarden High School. A fanatical Everton supporter, as a youngster Speed once delivered newspapers to the club's former captain Kevin Ratcliffe. In an interview with the Evening Standard Ratcliffe recalled: 'When he was 14 or 15 he was my paper boy, he lived on my street. And my paper was not always on time, which was no use if you were a footballer leaving the house early for training. He was mates with my cousin so I used to take them for kickabouts down the end of the street. Even at that age he had a beautiful left foot. I thought straight away he had a chance.' In his mid-teens Speed was signed by Leeds. He said: 'Moving away from home was the best thing that happened to me. I had a council house in Leeds and nothing to do but play football. It was great. I used to go home, watch telly and go to bed.' It was at Leeds where the young Speed was to meet two of his greatest influences, manager Billy Bremner and, later, team-mate Gordon Strachan. He told the Standard: 'I used to stop off at Burger King on the way home when I was 19 or 20. 'Gordon Strachan was on bananas and seaweed. I thought: "What is he eating that for?" 'Then when he runs past you in pre-season, you realise why. I was fortunate to take that on board at an early age.' Speed made his league debut in May 1989 - a goalless draw with Oldham Athletic in the old Second Division. He quickly excelled on the left-side of midfield, helping Howard Wilkinson's side win the old First Division in 1992, netting seven times. He played for the Leeds side that lost to Aston Villa in the 1996 League Cup Final and that was a massive year for Speed. He married his wife Louise and moved to Everton under Joe Royle the club he had supported as a boy for a fee of £3.5 million.
But although his days at Everton included some great highs - scoring on his debut, equalising in the Merseyside Derby and netting the only hat-trick of his career, it was to end acrimoniously after just two years. He had been installed as captain of the club for the 1997-1998 season by the then manager Howard Kendall but moved to Newcastle for a fee of £5.5million under controversial circumstances. Speed never fully explained his reasons for leaving Everton. There were rumours that he refused to travel to an away game at West Ham while some have mentioned Kendall's excessive drinking as playing a role. In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, he said: 'You know why I'm leaving, but I can't explain myself publicly because it would damage the good name of Everton Football Club and I'm not prepared to do that.' During his six years at Newcastle he made over 200 appearance for the club, playing in FA Cup Final defeats by Arsenal in 1998 and Manchester United in 1999 and helping to take the Magpies into the Champions League for the 2002-2003 season. The late Newcastle Manager Bobby Robson described him as one of his 'blue chip' players. After Speed was sold to Bolton in 2004 Robson said: 'He is one of the best of the best. He and Alan Shearer are the finest role models you will find in football.' In Bolton's 4-0 victory over West Ham in December 2006, Speed became the first player to notch up 500 Premiership appearances. He would hold the record for most Premier League appearances with 535 until February 2009 when Portsmouth goalkeeper David James overtook him. In May 2007 Speed was named as Bolton's first team coach after manager Sam Allardyce left the club. But it was shortlived and in 2008 he returned to Yorkshire with Sheffield United as a player, before injury forced him to the sidelines. Speed finally announced his retirement from playing at the age of 41. His international playing career saw him win 85 Wales caps, more than any other outfield player. It was a proud relationship he was to continue after being rather unexpectedly named Wales manager in December 2010, with his only previous managerial experience coming with a five-month stint at Sheffield United. He officially took over the national manager's job in December 2010, and his tenure got off to a rocky start with a 3-0 defeat to Ireland in February 2011. However, he quickly turned things around managing five wins in seven matches, reinvigorating Welsh football and engendering great hopes for the future of his young Welsh side. His final game in charge was the 4-1 victory against Norway earlier this month. He leaves behind a wife and two sons.
Interview: Andy Mitten From the December 2011 issue of FourFourTwo
The late Wales manager discusses his career.
I knew I’d made it as a player when I retired! As I was coming through the youth ranks at Leeds, my coach would say, “You haven’t made it until you are 35 and have a career behind you”. That stuck with me, long after I’d established myself in the first team at Elland Road. Maybe I should have applied myself more when I was younger, but by my mid-twenties I realised I had to work hard to stay at the top. It would have been a danger to think I’d made it: I’d have relaxed and my performances would have suffered. You must keep improving – you can’t stand still. My proudest moment in football was captaining Wales. It’s something I always look back on with immense pride.
I was happiest in football winning the league with Leeds in 1992. We just kept going, while Manchester United faltered at the end – our team spirit was excellent. I’d say I was happiest over a period of time at Newcastle. I played under Bobby Robson and was there for seven years. I played Champions League football, Newcastle was a great place to live and St James’ Park is a wonderful place to play football with great fans. I didn’t want to leave. The day football broke my heart was the day I left Newcastle. That was so hard to take. But football breaks your heart all the time. Losing to Romania for Wales in 1993 really hurt. We needed to win to reach our first World Cup finals since 1958. It was 1-1 at Cardiff Arms Park when we were awarded a penalty after 63 minutes. Paul Bodin hit the crossbar and was substituted six minutes later. Romania went on to win 2-1. Wales didn’t go to America, Romania did. I’ve never told anyone this before but I got selected for the cricket team at schoolboy level, not football. It’s funny how things work out. If I could change anything about football it would be gamesmanship, diving that sort of thing. Referees giving fouls for nothing really riles me. I’d love to see harsher penalties for diving. Football means everything. I love it because it’s always changing. You have to keep your mind open to new ideas; anyone who harks back to how it all used to be perfect is wrong. What made people successful 20 years ago doesn’t necessarily work now. You must evolve as a player and a manager: if you don’t move with the times you get left behind. My one regret is not taking that penalty against Romania. If I had missed then it would be easier for me to live with it. I’d made the equaliser and I was brought down for the penalty. I was playing well and I was confident. I should have picked the ball up. It’s something I’ll always look back on and wonder: what if… If I had one wish it would be that I’d won more trophies. I won the league with Leeds and the Second Division a few years before. We won the Charity Shield at Leeds but I was runner-up a lot of times: twice in the FA Cup final with Newcastle in 1998 and 1999, the Intertoto Cup with Newcastle and the League Cup with Bolton. Coming so close only to lose is much more painful than going out early. The item I cherish the most isn’t material. I don’t even know where my Leeds championship medal is. So I’d say family: we’re an item and they mean everything to me. Three words that sum me up… hardworking, honest, self-critical. Hang on, is that four?
Wayne Veysey: Chief correspondent: 28th November 2011
British football echoes with sadness after the death of the popular and likeable Wales manager, who passed away aged just 42 on Sunday morning
Sat in the BBC's 'Football Focus' studio on Saturday, Gary Speed looked relaxed, engaged and optimistic. He always did.
As news of his death spread 24 hours later, it seemed scarcely credible that the light had gone out on one of the game’s brightest stars. Popular and adored, wise yet modest, respected and likeable, he was, in the words of his friend and Wales No.2 Raymond Verheijen “a beautiful person”. The tributes that have poured in have been warm, fitting and heartfelt but echoing with abject sadness. Everywhere you turn there is incomprehension. And you felt the presence of ‘Speedo’, as he was known by so many in the game. Swansea City, with their core of Wales internationals, were playing. Shay Given, a close friend of Speed from their Newcastle United days, was in tears. The Liverpool-Manchester City match seemed hollow and unimportant following the withdrawal of Craig Bellamy, who was devoted to and a devotee of his international manager.
It is horribly premature to be reflecting on a life ended at 42 and a career that had begun its second phase as encouragingly and substantially as it had ended its brilliant first, during which Speed was a permanent and widely admired adornment to the Premier League landscape.
I last encountered Speed in successive Mondays in September. The first occasion was at the Luton Hoo hotel, where Wales were based in the build-up to the England Euro 2012 qualifier at Wembley. I was interviewing Verheijen on a sofa in the hotel lobby for a feature on Wales’ evolution from no-hopers to serious international team. Speed was sat nearby on an armchair making last-minute preparations for the match with a member of staff from the Football Association of Wales. The respect and warmth between him and Verheijen, a disciple of Guus Hiddink and a hugely respected coach and conditioning expert, was clear. Verheijen occasionally raised his voice to get his boss' notice with a deliberately controversial comment. Speed, with half an ear on our conversation, would smile and offer a sharp response. It was a measure of Speed’s willingness to learn the managerial trade that he was at Molineux the following Monday for a day-long coaching seminar hosted by Verheijen. Down to earth and approachable, he greeted delegates and me, the only journalist present, at the front desk with a grin, a firm handshake and a chat. He had an aura and a presence but there was not a shred of arrogance or aloofness. He was generous with his time, too. A mature and urbane figure, he did not need chaperoning in the company of journalists, as is the nauseating modern way for sports figures. Speed listened attentively during the seminar, occasionally making notes and looking completely at home in the world of coaches, who included Neil Lennon and Mick McCarthy, and technical directors and fitness experts from across Europe. “Gary has no ego,” Verheijen told me. “He is smart, and secure enough to delegate. He lets me do what I want, which is to develop the playing style and the tactical sessions, but he is still the guy in charge. He makes all the decisions. We have an excellent partnership.”
It was the same during his playing days. Speed was intelligent enough to recognise his limitations and grafted as hard as any professional to coax the maximum out of his talent. He first caught the eye of Howard Wilkinson at left-back in a Leeds United youth game and, such was his versatility, Speed played in nine of the 10 outfield positions before establishing himself as one quarter of the famous Leeds United title-winning midfield that also included Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty. As the years rolled by, at Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United, Speed moved inside from the left flank to central midfield, a formidable figure with his dextrous left foot, wide range of passing and appetite for industry. His excellence in the air was invaluable in both penalty boxes, and a goal every six-and-a-half games was one that any attacking midfielder would have been proud of, never mind one whose role became more defensive as the years rolled by. Rarely injured, his durability was matched by his longevity. Aged 38, he was a still Premier League regular at Bolton, 19 years after his Leeds debut. He played his last game for Sheffield United at 40. The sense of bewilderment today is all the greater because there was such a seamless link between his playing days and a new career in coaching. Just as his name was on the teamsheet every week – Speed held the record for most Premier League appearances until overtaken by David James and Ryan Giggs – he seemed destined for a long managerial career. He followed a short spell at Sheffield United by taking up the reins with Wales, who had fallen to rock bottom at a time when the best players had lost interest in turning up to a defeatist camp. Speed’s arrival paid almost immediate dividends in terms of results, performances and professionalism. The team rose from 117th in the world to 45th and the manager was receiving deserved plaudits. Talk of a place at the 2014 World Cup, which would be Wales’ first finals appearance for 56 years, seemed feasible rather than far fetched. Professionally, life was going well. Whatever private agonies the husband and father-of-two had, he kept from even his closest friends. Football, and life, is the poorer for the passing of Gary Speed.
SPEED'S CAREER STATISTICS
LEEDS UNITED 1988-1996 GAMES: 312 GOALS: 57
EVERTON 1996-1998 GAMES: 65 GOALS: 17
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1998-2004 GAMES: 284 GOALS: 40
BOLTON 2004-2008 GAMES: 139 GOALS: 14
SHEFFIELD UNITED 2008-2010 GAMES: 40 GOALS: 6
WALES 1990-2004 GAMES: 85 GOALS: 7
SHEFFIELD UNITED AUG 2010 - SEP 2010 GAMES: 18 WINS: 6
WALES DEC 2010 - NOV 2011 GAMES: 10 WINS: 5
Gary Speed obituary: Yorkshire Evening Post: 29th November 2011
Gary Speed: Leeds United mourning a legend
The Leeds United family will come together as one on Saturday to pay emotional tribute to Gary Speed. A minute’s remembrance for the tragic United hero will be held before kick-off at the home game against Millwall, the club has confirmed. Footage of Speed’s finest moments in the white of Leeds will also be played on Elland Road’s big screen. A special edition of United’s matchday programme is being produced, containing a host of fans’ memories of the title-winning midfielder. And Leeds’s current team will show their appreciation for their illustrious predecessor by wearing black armbands for the fixture. The side will also wear black armbands for this evening’s game at Nottingham Forest. Fans attending tonight’s match are planning an 11-minute chant in honour of the man who filled the number 11 shirt for Leeds with distinction on so many occasions. Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, has called for some form of permanent memorial to Speed. Taylor said he had never known such an outpouring of grief among the soccer community as that sparked by the death of the Welshman. He went on: “There will be an overwhelming sense that we want to do something together to show how loved and regarded he was in the football world. “Everywhere he went he was surrounded by friends. There is a terrible sense of loss.” Leeds City Council leader Coun Keith Wakefield said: “On behalf of the city of Leeds I would like to express my shock and extreme sadness at the death of Gary Speed. “Gary was a hugely popular and respected figure in Leeds, both on a personal and professional level. “He will forever be fondly remembered by everyone in the city and our thoughts at this very sad time are with his family and friends.” Wales manager Speed was found hanged at his home in Cheshire on Sunday. An inquest into the 42-year-old father-of-two’s death was due to open at Warrington Coroner’s Court today.
Speed began his career at Leeds, playing for the Whites between 1988 and 1996. He was a key figure in the United side that won the old First Division championship in 1992 and also had spells with Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United. An online campaign has been launched urging supporters to fill Elland Road for Saturday’s game as a mark of respect. Fans were yesterday continuing to lay flowers, shirts and scarves at the ground’s Billy Bremner statue. A poignant message written on one shirt read ‘Go on Gary Speed, get one yourself son’ – a famous line of commentary that accompanied his goal at Elland Road against Sheffield United in Leeds’s 1989-90 promotion season. The tributes even included a Manchester United shirt laid by a fan of Leeds’s arch-rivals from across the Pennines. A book of condolence has been opened at the Football Association of Wales (FAW) headquarters in Cardiff. The FAW has also received messages of sympathy from soccer governing bodies Uefa and Fifa.
Gary Speed Tribute: Dave Tomlinson of the Mighty, Mighty Whites
29th November 2011 - Nottingham Forest 0 Leeds United 4 Championship - City Ground - 23,577 http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/20111129.htm
His tribute in the form of the report on the game subsequent to the passing of Gary Speed.
Scorers: Leeds - Snodgrass (20 mins), Howson (45), Becchio (49), Clayton (66)
Nottingham Forest: Camp, Morgan, Chambers, Lynch, Reid, Cunningham (Gunter 64), Anderson, McGugan (McGoldrick 64), Moussi, Tudgay, Findley (Miller 46)
Leeds United: McCarthy, Connolly, Kisnorbo, Lees, Pugh, Snodgrass (Nunez 80), Clayton (Keogh 75), Howson, Brown, White, Becchio (McCormack 75)
News of the untimely death of former Leeds United midfielder Gary Speed broke on the morning of Sunday, 27 November 2011.
The 42-year-old, who had succeeded John Toshack as manager of Wales in December 2010, appeared as a guest the previous day on BBC's Football Focus programme, with presenter Dan Walker, who recalled the day on his blog: "He was cracking jokes with Gary McAllister, his midfield partner from the title-winning Leeds side of 1991/92. Off air we talked about playing golf, how good his boys were at football and his dreams of taking Wales to the World Cup in 2014. "After Focus we recorded a 10-minute piece with Gary talking about Wales' qualifying campaign for the next World Cup. He spoke with passion about the fixtures and desire to see success. His hope was that the upturn in form would see his team playing in front of full stadia again. He joked about Team GB and how Scotland would be an easy game, McAllister giggled. "I joined Gary in the Match of the Day production office a few minutes later where he was chatting with Shearer, Mark Lawrenson and McAllister. They were having a laugh and watching the Stoke v Blackburn game. Alan and Gary were organising when they were going to see each other next before Shearer left to go to watch Manchester United v Newcastle at Old Trafford. They all ribbed Alan for his comedy hat that later featured on MOTD."
After the match ended, Speed drove home to Cheshire. The following morning, just before 7am, his wife Louise found his body hanged in the garage. She telephoned the ambulance service at 7:08am and the police were also informed. They confirmed that they were not treating the death as suspicious. His death was announced to the public by the Football Association of Wales. An inquest was held, with the coroner reaching a narrative verdict, stating that cause of death was by "self-suspension". There was insufficient evidence to determine whether it was intentional as he may have intended to make a "dramatic gesture". The inquest heard that the pressure of management had put some strain on his marriage and that he and Louise had argued the night before his death. Alan Shearer had told Speed that such arguments were normal within a long-term relationship, and Louise told the inquest how recent conversations between her and her husband "went on about our future together and how excited he was about our journey together". Four days before his death, Speed had sent a text to his wife about the possibility of suicide, but he also dismissed such an action because of the importance of his wife and two children. The football world was stunned by the news and rallied round, united in their tributes to the likeable Welshman.
Speed was the first player to make 500 appearances in the Premier League, after signing professional terms with Leeds in 1988 and making his first team debut at the age of 19 under the management of Howard Wilkinson, who commented: "Gary Speed was honourable, trustworthy and a joy to manage. He was honest, he was a role model and he was a great bloke. An avid learner, he recognised responsibility and he was always fully committed. Above all, he was a lovely person. Out of all the players I've have had under my wing, he remained a real favourite. "As the ultimate professional, Gary was a star in the true sense. For him to leave us at 42 is such a tragic loss. As a manager he had a life of success to look forward to, I'm sure. He had started so promisingly in charge of Wales, I imagined his managerial career would follow a steadily upward curve. "His horrendous passing represents an unbelievable loss to his family and the football world. He leaves a huge, huge void and I can't begin to try to think what his parents, his lovely wife, Louise, and his boys are going through at this time. I'm finding this very, very difficult to come to terms with. It's unbelievable. I'm still struggling to get my head round it. "I knew his parents, his dad in particular, very well because when I became manager of Leeds United Gary was one of what was then known as the groundstaff boys. "My first meeting with Gary was in 1988 when I joined Leeds and I quickly realised he had a lovely personality. My first memory of him as a footballer relates to shortly after that when I watched him play left-back in a youth game. "After working with him in training a few times I was soon telling him he could play in a few other roles, most notably wide left and left midfield. I think by the end at Leeds, I'd played him in nine or 10 outfield positions but, unlike some players, Gary never complained, never, ever showed any dissent. He just got on with things and, whatever job he was asked to do, invariably did it very well. "He was a terrific footballer, not as naturally gifted as some, but he worked so hard, listened to advice and made the very most of everything he had. As a man, I've rarely come across a better, more balanced or more genuine person. He had a lovely family and, as the years passed, I was pleased to be able to get to know his wife and his two sons, Tommy and Ed, one of whom is a gifted footballer and the other a talented boxer. Playing in our title winning midfield at Leeds, Gary became particularly close to Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan. They were his big, big mates and mentors and they stayed close friends until the end. "I'm proud that Gary attributed the extraordinary longevity of his playing career to things he learnt from being with us at Leeds. He felt the knowledge he acquired about fitness, diet and hydration during those early years at Elland Road helped him keep going for so long at Bolton before he finally decided to become a coach. "Unlike some well-known players, Gary really believed in coach education and attended every course he could. When he took over as manager of Sheffield United he used the skills he'd learnt to help bring young players through to the first team and, later, he showed real commitment to the development of coaching in Wales. "In many ways his approach to coaching and management was exactly the same as his approach to playing: he was absolutely dedicated and always eager to learn as much as possible. You could see how well he was starting to apply that knowledge in his job with Wales."
Speed helped Leeds win the Second Division title in 1990 and the championship two years later. He joined Everton in 1996 and later played for Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United. He went on to manage the Blades before taking change of Wales, for whom he appeared 85 times as a player. James Brown from the Sabotage Times website: "If ever there was a player you could point to as a role model it was Gary Speed. Maybe one of those kids I train, or the boys they play against, or any other kid running over muddy parks all over the country this morning will become as great a footballer and sportsman as Gary Speed. That's what you hope for, but they'll have to go some way to achieve that. "Last night I was stood in the Leeds United manager's office at Elland Road with Simon Grayson and my two closest Leeds United supporting friends. One of them is Gary's friend and agent. All four of us have known Gary Speed to differing degrees. None of us could have predicted that 12 hours later Gary would be found dead at home by his wife, Louise. The manager's area, reception, and players' lounge at Elland Road are covered with pictures of the great players who made their names under Don Revie, Howard Wilkinson and David O'Leary. It wasn't always that way, when Howard Wilkinson, arrived at the club at the end of the 1980s he insisted they take down the images of the Revie legends who were proving too great a team for subsequent groups of players to measure themselves against. "It was Wilkinson's aim to create a new generation of players who would create a name for themselves. Gary Speed was a vital, vibrant part of the success Wilkinson steered the club to. Of all the pictures of the great Jack Charlton, free kick expert Ian Harte, midfield dynamo David Batty, and the images of the British Forces soldiers in their Leeds kits the one I looked at longest yesterday was the group image of Howard Wilkinson's squad celebrating their winning the old League Division One championship. "If Batty was the tenacity in that great midfield, Speed was the pace and the cutting edge, McAllister was the passer, Strachan pulled the strings, but it was Speedo streaking forward with the ball that was the youthful threat the team needed. With Batts, Speedo represented the present and also the future. His recent success after a wobbly start as the Welsh national football manager has given similar hope and optimism to a nation for whom footballing success has been sparse. He was instrumental in helping Leeds United recapture glory and there's few who could argue that he hadn't started something significant with his young Welsh team. "Back in the early 90s at Elland Road some fans would mock Speedo for growing his hair long, he could have come out in a pink afro for all I cared, so long as he made up the fourth place in the fantastic midfield line up and carried the game to the opposition like he did. His friend Ryan Giggs might have had that added elan to his play that won him the extra attention but Speed was pretty much the all-round midfielder, as reflected in the quality of clubs he played for and the men like Alex Ferguson and Fabio Capello who coveted him. When I think of Gary on the pitch I think of a player who works and runs constantly, who can score all sorts of goals. "Those who knew Gary Speed very well, his friends and colleagues in and out of football, are as shocked as the rest of us who simply admired him. But it didn't matter if you played for Wales, Manchester United or were just a fan of football he would have time for you. He was an inspiration. Everyone who ever met him will tell you what a nice guy he was but that's the word I would use, Inspiration. "We are so often taught to respect our elders that it becomes strange when the footballers in the team you support are younger than you and you find yourself admiring them. Go on Twitter or turn on the TV and you will see new and old quotes from the greatest British footballing talent of the last 25 years paying tribute. Sky will be telling you about his appearance records, transfer fees and fitness. I will leave them to deliver the stats and quote the tributes. "For me this is more personal. I've been where his family are right now. My mum took her own life in February 1992 and when Leeds won the League that year it was the first time I felt happy. Maybe that's why I'm still sitting here in tears. Speed was part of something that's bigger than just football results and performances. He contributed to something that made people feel their lives were better because of it. He was a good man who was good to people and you can't really ask for any more than that. Most suicides leave you feeling 'it's just not right' but some deaths are sadly inevitable. Gary Speed's wasn't, his death is truly shocking and has rocked the world of football and beyond. He will be painfully missed by those that knew him, those that enjoyed what he gave to the world of sport and for those young kids legging it round the parks this morning hopefully his passing will prompt them to take some time to find out about him. "People like Gary are the reason I still play football, still travel hundreds of miles to watch my team, still get up in the rain and go and train ten-year-olds after 6 hours sleep. They are what is great about football. He played to the best of his ability and with enthusiasm. Gary Speed was a good man I admired. I can't say any more than that."
Henry Winter in the Telegraph: "It was shortly after 11am on Monday when a Manchester United fan approached the Gary Speed shrine enveloping the Billy Bremner statue outside Elland Road. He clutched a Manchester United shirt bearing the message 'Gary Speed RIP'. "Wary of the reaction from the 30 or so Leeds United supporters gathered around the ever-expanding memorial to a fallen hero, the man from Manchester walked up to a Leeds official standing nearby. 'Can I lay this,' he asked, holding out the shirt. 'Of course,' came the reply. 'But will they say anything?' added the fan, pointing to the Leeds group. 'No, of course they won't,' replied the official, who accompanied him to where the flowers, cards, shirts and scarves were spreading from the plinth on to the pavement. "He carefully, respectfully placed the shirt of Leeds' fiercest rivals in the middle of a sea of white. Some of the Leeds supporters engaged him in warm conversation. 'I'm a Manchester United fan,' he explained, 'but I wanted to show my respect to Gary for everything he did for football.' "The terrace tribalism that can scar football was placed to one side as a sport united in mourning. Speed's immense standing in the game was reflected by this genuine gesture from a rival. Fans of all hues admired Speed because he embodied certain qualities that all fans crave in their stars: the hard work, the pride in the shirt, the ability to create and score. "The outpouring of emotion shows no sign of slowing. Speed was so deeply loved. Such was the volume of people wanting to post messages on the Football Association of Wales' online book of condolences that the organisation's site briefly could not handle the intense traffic. "Among the many tributes paid to Speed, the image of the FA of Wales computer with smoke pouring from its seams painted a vivid picture of his popularity. The most bipolar of sports, football can divide and unite, can reverberate to the vilest of chants and also pause for the most respectful of silences. "After Hillsborough, Alex Ferguson was immediately on the phone to Kenny Dalglish, offering to send fans' representatives to Anfield. As he told Dalglish, Ferguson wanted Manchester United to show support for Liverpool in a time of such tragedy. No triteness is intended with the simple observation that football handles grief well. The family of football, often fractious, congregates as one. "In Speed's case, there is a desire to record gratitude for the joy he gave so many, to register disbelief at the untimely end of such a handsome, decent, ego-free man and, of course, to pass on condolences to his family. Other clubs' colours, and scribbled expressions of sympathy from match day adversaries, could be found at the Speed shrine. "I visited late on Sunday. Even in the dark of a cold Yorkshire night, people were still driving up, parking and pausing for a few moments to remember a club icon. "Some Leeds fans placed a picture of Speed in that 92 title-winning kit, even one from the 90/91 season United fans pay tribute during the Forest game. How appropriate. Summed up Speed. A police car even pulled up, the two officers examining this field of flowers and fabrics, this testament to the powerful feelings stirred by a likeable, talented Welshman.
"Leeds responded sensitively to Sunday's desperate news. At 6am on Monday, their manager, Simon Grayson, embarked on a series of interviews, shuttling between local television studios and the Speed shrine. By 8am, Grayson had done seven live interviews. He talked and talked, calmly and impressively, when the emotion must have been coursing through him like a rip tide. "For Grayson grew up with Speed at Leeds, the pair had stayed good friends, and now he had to face question after question about the death of a team mate and a room mate. "Grayson conducted himself with great dignity in trying circumstances. Behind Grayson, inside Elland Road, Speed's old club were besieged with calls from around the world, from the vast diaspora of Leeds fans mourning the loss of a revered footballing son. "'The reaction has been phenomenal, unbelievable,' remarked a club official, in between fielding calls not just from the far flung parts but from followers of many different clubs. "Once again, with the Speed tragedy, one comes back to his elevated standing among all clubs. The high regard in which Speed was held is also captured in the number of clubs planning special tributes to him, whether periods of silence or applause. "Many eyes will be on Nottingham. When Grayson's team visit Forest on Tuesday evening, the City Ground will fall silent for a minute before kick off. Leeds fans apparently intend singing a special tribute to Speed after 11 minutes, honouring his old club number. "Saturday brings one of Leeds' rivals, Millwall, to Elland Road when the majority of Speed tributes are scheduled for what will be an occasion of raw emotion. Leeds will ask both captains to lay wreaths. "For hours before kick off, thousands will mill around the Bremner statue, adding to the Speed shrine. Inevitably most poignant at Elland Road, similar scenes are being echoed at his other clubs. "Shirts and scarves were draped on railings outside Bramall Lane, around a large photograph ofUnited players celebrate the opening goal at the City Ground Speed at the Reebok, on the gates outside Goodison Park and outside St James' Park. "As with Grayson at Leeds, all of Speed's clubs responded to the tragedy with real class. Bolton Wanderers captain Kevin Davies, typically, spoke well of his old team mate. He even donned black attire for interviews. The chief executive of the FA of Wales, Jonathan Ford, talked powerfully about Speed, and threw open the door to the organisation's office for those needing support at 'this terrible, terrible time'. "Wherever you look and listen, people are honouring Speed. Aston Villa's fine supporters have already stood in silent salute of the Wales manager at the Liberty Stadium. "Of course they should, people will cry, it's common decency. Sadly, it's not always thus. I covered a Holland v France match in Lens when the Dutch fans tried to start a Mexican wave during a minute's silence for a French disaster. Enmity is a part of football. "Not this week. Any hostilities that stain the game on these shores have been put on hold. Speed's stature in the game ensured that. In their darkest hour, at least his family know that countless people grieve with them."
Two days after Speed's death, United played Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in a Championship fixture. The club confirmed that there would be a minute's applause before the game and that both teams would wear black armbands as a mark of respect. But the most notable act of remembrance would be that from the travelling United fans, who declared that they would sing celebratory chants for eleven minutes, starting in the 11th minute, in recognition of the No 11 that Speed wore so well. Simon Grayson, a friend for 25 years: "We came to Elland Road as 14-year-olds and signed on the morning of a game and it was the first time I've ever come across him. His dad was with him and my dad was with me and Gary had that Chester accent I'd never came across. From then on, we trained together and in the school holidays, my parents came close to his parents who followed him in the youth team, reserves and then first team games. Subsequently, our paths crossed as players and then later on, as managers, we did six or seven years on coaching courses together. But it just seems just like yesterday we were 14-year-olds coming to this club. "Sunday was a difficult day and I won't be the first to admit that I shed a tear when I got the news. I left here and just spent a little bit of time to myself. But you've got to get your professional head on because Gary would have wanted us to do that. He'd have been doing exactly the same thing, preparing his team as thoroughly as possible for a game. It would be a fantastic and fitting way for us to remember Gary by managing to get three points. Hopefully, my team can do Gary Speed justice in terms of how he produced performances for this football club."
After United's dismal showing three days earlier in a 2-1 defeat at home to Barnsley, Grayson chose to shake things up, reverting to the 4-5-1 formation that had served him so well the previous season. Aidy White took up the role on the left that had been left vacant after Max Gradel's transfer and Michael Brown was given his first start since 10th September, allowing Jonny Howson to take up a more advanced position.
After a pre-kick off minute's applause, the action was played out to the backdrop of sustained chanting of "Oh, Gary Gary, Gary Gary Gary, Gary Speed".
United players rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion, exerting utter dominance from start to finish. They were immediately on the offensive, White breaking down the left inside the first 20 seconds to throw in a cross, from which Robert Snodgrass shot high over the bar. Forest centre-back Wes Morgan had to deal with another cross and Howson tested goalkeeper Lee Camp with a low drive. Brown then worked the keeper even harder with a strike from 30 yards.
As planned, the concentrated chant began in the eleventh minute and echoed round the City Ground. It was a spine tingling show of togetherness and celebration and it was so very, very fitting that, just as the planned eleven minutes were drawing to a close, United should take the lead. Adam Clayton dispossessed a Forest player in the middle of their half and latter day hero Snodgrass took the ball and unleashed a crisp strike from distance to beat Forest keeper Lee Camp. The goal was fitting reward for the way United had dominated the opening minutes, and they continued to do so with Luciano Becchio having two efforts blocked by defenders. Snodgrass was denied a second goal after Camp came out to meet his run. The Scottish winger emerged from the challenge with the ball and tried to find the vacant goal from 25 yards, but his shot was deflected onto the roof of the net by a last ditch intervention from Morgan.
Snodgrass was involved again after 40 minutes, robbing Cunningham to get away down the right but when he pulled the ball back, Howson shot wide. On the stroke of half time, from Becchio's flicked header, Snodgrass cushioned a pass out to Howson on the right. The midfielder launched into it first time and lashed home a spectacular strike from 20 yards to make it 2-0.
Forest had barely registered a chance in the first half and brought on Ishmael Miller after the break in a bid to remedy this, but they were left reeling after four minutes when United scored their third. Brown curled in a cross from the left flank and Becchio nodded home from the edge of the six-yard area. Miller did get in on the action on the hour but his header was comfortably saved by United keeper Alex McCarthy. After 66 minutes, United moved into a 4-0 lead. Howson picked up the ball five yards outside the area and wriggled his way deep into the danger zone. His shot was parried by Camp, but Clayton latched onto the loose ball and fired into the roof of the net from six yards. Forest's misery was compounded with ten minutes remaining when midfielder Andy Reid was shown a second yellow card for a foul which sent Aidy White flying.
"Can we play you every week?" the United fans taunted from the packed Bridgford End of the City Ground, drowning under an ocean of white scarves. Skipper Jonny Howson was possibly the man of the match. According to Phil Hay in the Yorkshire Evening Post, "It is no secret that a young Jonny Howson saw himself as a forward in the making. Those who watched him blossom in Leeds United's academy remember a player with great potential and a natural eye for goal. "Until last season, Howson had never scored more than five times in a single term. But when a positional shift dictated by Simon Grayson helped him find his finishing touch, he ran into double figures with a spate of important goals. His potency was the direct result of Grayson's decision to plant him in the void between United's midfield and their striker, Luciano Becchio. Having previously scratched around for chances, Howson scored a classic hat trick in a 4-1 victory at Scunthorpe United and looked as if he had found a niche. "For the first time in several months, he was given that freedom again at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday and justified his role with his first goal of the season, a brilliant volley from 20 yards. Given the choice, United's captain would remain in that position against Millwall tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Grayson might be happy to let him after seeing Leeds mark an emotional evening at the City Ground with a 4-0 victory."
Howson: "I've mentioned it before that I love to play in that role. It's no secret. I haven't played there since the first game of the season and it was nice to get the chance again. For me, personally, I believe it's my natural position. I just do things automatically when I'm playing there. "I've got the insurance of having Clayts and Browny behind me and I knew I Clayton makes it 4-0could push on every time we got the ball. It gave me more freedom and it's something I really enjoy. When I play there, I always believe I'm going to create chances or get chances myself. As a youngster, I was brought up playing further forward. My main task was to put Forest's defence under pressure and I think I helped us to do that." In previous games, Grayson had persisted with a two-man forward line in which Ross McCormack was the focus and Andy Keogh a regular. Becchio took Keogh's place against Barnsley and McCormack was dropped at the City Ground, consigned to the bench despite his 11 goals.
The impact was resounding. "We obviously knew the circumstances before the game," Howson said when asked about Gary Speed. "I didn't know Gary personally but I was still affected. When you hear the news, your initial reaction is that you can't believe it. Your thoughts and your heart go out to his family and those closest to him. It was shocking news and out of the blue - especially for the fans who'll have watched him play for us. Leeds United is part of their lives. Even people who didn't know Gary have been affected. I don't think you'd be human if it didn't. "The tributes at our ground show the kind of guy he was and the effect he had on people. Listening to what everyone's had to say about Gary, it's all positive. People can't speak highly enough of him. "I don't know if we were under more pressure at Forest, but obviously we were going to give everything we had in memory of him. "As difficult as things have been, it was a nice touch that our fans sang his name for 11 minutes from the 11th minute. We could hear them and we were aware of it. "What we've done maybe won't help or make a difference but it's a little something and all the lads wanted to do it. The win was certainly for Gary and one for the fans too."
Simon Grayson: "Gary Speed was a fantastic person and I wanted my players to go out and produce a performance for him tonight. That was right out of the top locker of our performances tonight. It was very poignant that the first goal came right as the 11 minutes of singing ended and was a left footed shot. Gary Speed scored many goals like that. It's been difficult, but I'm a very proud manager tonight. I'm delighted to have got a result for Gary Speed. "We had a chat just before we went out and Glynn (Snodin) said some words to the players about Gary, about who he was and what he meant. They knew anyway, they know the feeling and they know how well respected he was, not just at Leeds but throughout the game. It was a passionate talk from Glynn and I'm not sure it's something I could have done because I don't think I would have been able to hold it together. "It's probably the proudest result I've had at this club and in my career as a manager. The performance was very apt and it meant a lot to everybody. Our supporters can be proud of what they've done since Sunday and what they'll do tomorrow. "It's a challenge to raise ourselves again but the players were very professional the other night. Many of them didn't know Gary personally but they were doing it for our supporters who watched him many times."
Gary Speed obituary: Howard Wilkinson: 27th November 2011
Wilkinson bemoans 'tragic loss'
Former Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson described the death of Gary Speed at 42 as a "tragic loss" and felt the former Wales midfielder was a "star in the true sense".
Speed was found dead at his home in Huntington, Chester, on Sunday morning. He was a key part of the Leeds side which won the 1992 First Division title under Wilkinson, arguably the pinnacle of a long and successful playing career at the top level.
Wilkinson told BBC Radio Five Live: "The players I worked with represented all colours of the rainbow in terms of character but in Gary's case he was a star in the true sense. For him - at 42 - to leave us is such a tragic loss." He added: "He had a life of success to look forward to I'm sure." Wilkinson added: "It's unbelievable, I'm still struggling to get my head around it. I've known Gary since 1988 when I joined Leeds and I've rarely come across a better balanced, lovely, genuine person. "He was a terrific player - not as gifted as some but he made the most of everything he had - worst of all for me I knew his parents, in particular his dad, his lovely wife and family - I just find it very very difficult to come to terms with it. "I cannot start to try and understand what his family are going through at this time. "We're not born footballers and like everyone else they had a talent and that became their job, but basically they are born people and subject to all the stress and strains and the good things that happen to one in life."
Gary Speed obituary: LONDON (Reuters)
Gary Speed, the manager of the Wales national team, was found dead on Sunday at the age of 42, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) said in a statement.
Cheshire police in north-west England, where Speed lived, said in a statement that a 42-year-old man had been found hanged at his home and that there were no suspicious circumstances. The FAW said in a statement: "That this tragedy should have overtaken someone so young and talented is a huge loss not only for his family and friends but a nation as a whole. "We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family. We ask that everyone respects the family's privacy at this very sad time."
Speed, who was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to football last year, leaves a wife and two sons. Wales First Minister Carwyen Jones said the news was devastating and that he was deeply saddened, adding "our thoughts are with his family at what must be a very difficult time for them". Speed played for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United in a playing career that spanned 22 seasons and he became Wales manager last December. He was a member of the Leeds team that won the last First Division title in 1992, before the start of the Premier League, and he became the first player to make 500 Premier League appearances during his time at Bolton in Dec. 2006. He retired after making 535 appearances in the Premier League. He also made 85 appearances for Wales between 1990 and 2004, becoming their most capped outfield player and second highest overall behind goalkeeper Neville Southall. He then turned to management - briefly with Sheffield United as player-manager before taking charge of Wales. Although Wales were eliminated from the race for the Euro 2012 finals, they had won their last three internationals and there were signs of real improvement under Speed's guidance.
The news of his death broke a short while before Welsh club Swansea City were due to play Aston Villa in the Premier League at Swansea's Liberty Stadium and after some debate by the authorities about whether the match would go ahead, the decision was taken that it would. Four of Speed's Welsh squad were playing: Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor and Joe Allen of Swansea, with their international team mate James Collins lining up for Villa. A minute's silence just before kickoff was broken with the crowd bursting into spontaneous applause in Speed's memory after a few seconds, and chanting his name. "He was enjoying outstanding success as Wales team manager and our thoughts are also with those Welsh internationals on duty today for both Swansea City and Aston Villa," the stadium announcer told the crowd. Speed's former Wales team mate Robbie Savage was among hundreds paying their respects on Twitter, saying: "The world has lost a great man in Gary Speed. I am devastated. Spoke to him yesterday morning. Why why? I will miss him so much. "He was upbeat on the phone, yesterday we were laughing together, talking football and dancing. He was a great team mate and a great friend. RIP."
Howard Wilkinson, who knew Speed as a teenager and was manager when he was part of the Leeds team that won the title in 1992, told Sky: "It is tragic, it is unbelievable. It is such a loss. "He was such a great, great bloke, I cannot believe it, or try to understand what his parents are thinking at this time. "I knew his mum and dad, but particularly his dad very well, his wife and his boys. He was a star in the truest sense. For him to leave us at 42 is such a tragic loss. He had a life of success to look forward to. "I have met a lot of people in my time and a lot of sportsmen but Gary had none of those (bad) things we sometimes associate with sportsmen. He was just such a great bloke."
Manchester United striker Michael Owen, who lived near Speed, said on Twitter: "I just cannot believe the news. We waved at each other a couple of days ago dropping our kids off at school. I'm numb."
Leeds manager Simon Grayson has expressed his shock at the loss of "a true friend" following the death of Gary Speed. Speed, 42, who began his career at Elland Road in 1988 and made nearly 250 appearances before moving on to Everton in 1996, was found dead at his home in Chester on Sunday morning. Grayson, signed schoolboy forms at Leeds on the same day as Speed, told the club's official website: "It is an unbelievably sad day. Speedo was a true friend and a very, very popular man. "Our sympathies are with Louise, his children, his dad, and all his family. We signed on the same day and played in the youth and reserve teams together. "We also did all our coaching badges together. He was a good friend and this is a very sad day. "Gary was such a popular person and this is a hard time for everybody."
As a manager Gary Speed had only just started the job of rebuilding the Wales national side, but he had already ensured a lasting legacy as one of the finest players of his generation. Although he started his career before the advent of the Premier League era he quickly established himself as one of its icons, becoming one of English football’s most consistent performers during spells with Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton. He later dropped down a division to play for Sheffield United, where he accepted his first management job before moving on to become manager of his country. Wales were, like each of the clubs he represented with distinction, enhanced by his presence and were considered one of the most improved sides in the world during Speed’s year at the helm. Speed, who was 42, leaves a wife Louise, and two sons.
Born in Mancot in 1969 he turned out for Flintshire Schoolboys while attending Hawarden High School before making Yorkshire his home when Leeds - and a professional contract - came calling. He soon became a vital part of a midfield that was marshalled by Gordon Strachan and Gary McAllister. Both men had a big influence on Speed and it speaks volumes about the sense of professionalism and focus on conditioning that drove the trio on that all three played until their 40th birthdays. The First Division title came to Elland Road in 1992, with Speed aged only 22, quickly followed by success in the Charity Shield. Few would have predicted at the time that the elegant midfielder would not add to that haul but, despite the acclaim lavished upon him over the subsequent 12 years, he never again claimed a winner’s medal. He was part of the Leeds side beaten by Aston Villa in the 1996 League Cup final and left for Everton, the side he had supported in childhood, soon after. Manager Joe Royle paid £3.5million to take him to Goodison Park and despite some notable highs - he scored on his home debut, equalised in the Merseyside derby and notched the only hat-trick of his senior career - he lasted just two seasons with the Toffees. The precise circumstances surrounding his departure were never made public but his stoic refusal to criticise either the club or its fans when he was booed on his return in Newcastle colours were indicative of his loyal character. The Magpies shelled out £5.5million for his services, an outlay he repaid many times over during six years of outstanding service. He went on to make over 200 appearances for the side, in a variety of positions, and was one of the most reliable players at a club who have appeared in a state of almost constant flux in recent years. Age appeared not to diminish him and he became an on-field leader during a time that saw the side reach successive FA Cup finals, losing to Arsenal and Manchester United in 1998 and 1999 as well as reach the Champions League in 2002-03. When he left Newcastle, this time with a farewell as fond as his Everton departure had been uneasy, Bolton offered him the chance to extend his top-flight career which he duly did over a period of four years. In 2006, he became the first man to make 500 Premier League appearances and briefly accepted a coaching role with Bolton after Sam Allardyce left the club. In 2008, he returned to Yorkshire with Sheffield United as a player before eventually graduating to the dugout. He struggled to make an impact at a side struggling for both confidence and results but it was in international football where he found his managerial feet. Holder of 85 Wales caps - a record for an outfield player and a testament to his commitment during a period when many of the country’s higher-profile players routinely dropped out of international fixtures - he approached the job with passion. He made the brave call to install the 20-year-old Aaron Ramsey as his captain and swiftly set about empowering a group of players who had only a small amount of star power, in the shape of Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy, to call upon. Three consecutive defeats to start his reign meant he had to deal with pressure from the off but the turnaround in fortunes was well under way when the tragic news of his death was confirmed by the Football Association of Wales this morning. He had overseen five wins in seven matches, the last an impressive 4-1 defeat of Norway earlier this month, and Wales were bounding up the FIFA rankings. The work of the Wales team must now continue without him, but like so many in the football world they will mourn his passing. The Wales football manager Gary Speed, who has died at the age of 42 after apparently taking his own life, was an outstanding footballer and promised to be equally successful in this new phase of his career. But while he had been in charge of the national side for only 10 games, his playing career was long and distinguished. A skilful, athletic and versatile left-sided attacking midfield player, Speed was also an exceptional header of the ball and had a healthy knack of scoring goals. He represented Wales and four different Premier League clubs – Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers – during a 22-year club career. His longevity at the top level of the game was underpinned by a remarkable dedication to his profession. One of the first British players fully to embrace new ideas about fitness and nutrition, his success can be judged by the fact that only two players, Ryan Giggs and David James, have surpassed his total of 535 Premier League appearances, while he holds the record for the most appearances for Wales by an outfield player – 85 – made over 14 years. He won the only major honour of his career, the Football League championship, early in his career, with Leeds in 1991-92, the last season before the formation of the Premier League, but appeared in two FA Cup finals with Newcastle, and acquired a reputation as a leader and model for other players. He captained most of the teams he played for at some time, including Everton, the club he supported as a boy. He was appointed MBE in 2010 for his services to football.
Born in Mancot, Flintshire, Speed was the only Welshman in his family, his parents, sister and children all being born in Chester. He went to Hawarden high school and played regularly for Flintshire Schoolboys and Aston Park Rangers before joining Leeds straight from school in June 1988. He made his first-team debut at 19 for the club then in the second division, helping win promotion for Howard Wilkinson's team in 1989-90, his second full season, and winning his first Welsh cap against Costa Rica in May 1990. Although he also played as a defender and forward – "I think I played him in every position," Wilkinson said – he became a regular on the left of a midfield that also included Gary McAllister, David Batty and Gordon Strachan, a formidable quartet that would help the team to win the championship in 1992, ahead of Manchester United. However, Leeds failed to build on that success, and after 312 games and 57 goals for his first club Speed jumped at the chance to join Everton in 1996, for £3.5m. He signed a five-year contract and finished his first season as the Toffees' player of the year, being made captain of his club, as he was for his country, at the beginning of the 1997-98 season. However, what should have been a dream for the boyhood Evertonian began to turn sour. There were rumours, never fully substantiated, of fallings-out behind the scenes, and Speed moved to Newcastle for £5.5m in 1998 after only 65 games and 17 goals. He was to play 284 times for the Magpies, including defeats in the FA Cup finals of 1998, by Arsenal, and 1999, by Manchester United. However, although titles eluded him, he also played in the Champions League while on Tyneside and kept up his scoring record, netting 40 times. In July 2004 he moved on to Bolton for £750,000, and it was while at the Reebok Stadium that he became the first player to make 500 Premier League appearances, in a 4–0 victory over West Ham. He also, in May 2007, took his first steps into coaching. The following October he decided to concentrate solely on playing again, but in the new year he left the top flight, signing for Sheffield United. A back injury suffered in November 2008 prompted Kevin Blackwell, the manager, to suggest a permanent move to a coaching role, an opportunity that Speed grasped with relish. Three games into the 2010-11 season, Blackwell was sacked and Speed promoted into his first managerial post, but he was not to stay long in the Bramall Lane chair. In December 2010, he was named as the successor to John Toshack as Wales manager, the Welsh FA paying compensation to United. Although Speed had presided over five victories and five defeats in his 10 matches in charge of the principality, there were plenty of encouraging signs in Speed's stewardship, not least that four of the wins came in the past five games, with an unlucky 1-0 defeat by England at Wembley the only blemish. "He completely transformed the Welsh situation from one of despair to one of hope and expectation," his former Wales teammate Mark Bowen said. "The players liked him and had a real bond with him that showed in games. Everyone was really excited." Speed is survived by his wife, Louise, and two sons.
• Gary Andrew Speed, footballer and manager, born 8th September 1969; died 27th November 2011
Yorkshire Evening Post: Published on Monday 28th November 2011
The world of football was in shock today after former Leeds United and Sheffield United footballer Gary Speed was found hanged. Police said there were “no suspicious circumstances” surrounding the death of the 42-year-old, who had been the manager of the Welsh national team. Speed’s body was found at his home on the outskirts of Chester, less than 24 hours after he had appeared on television as a panellist on the BBC show Football Focus. A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said yesterday: “At 7.08am, Cheshire Police was informed of a sudden death at an address in Huntington, Chester. “Officers went to the scene where a 42-year-old man was found dead. The next of kin have been informed and have confirmed the identity of the man as Gary Speed. “There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. The family have requested that they are left in peace to grieve at this difficult time.” Sources confirmed the former midfielder, who last year became an MBE for services to football, was found hanged. He is survived by a wife and two children. Police said a family tribute would be released at a later date.
Speed, the first player to make 500 appearances in the Premier League, was a member of the Leeds United squad which won the First Division Championship in 1991-92. He later played for Everton, Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers before joining Sheffield United in 2008. He returned to Bramall Lane as manager in 2010 but left the club after a few months to coach Wales, the country he represented 85 times as a player. Supporters of Leeds United and Sheffield United yesterday left flowers, shirts and scarves in his memory. A spokesman for Leeds United said: “We are stunned to learn this news. The club expresses its deepest sadness. Gary was very well thought of throughout the game. He was a very likeable and popular man.” Sheffield United said: “Everybody at Sheffield United is extremely shocked and saddened to learn of the death of former player and manager Gary Speed. Thoughts are with Gary’s family and friends at this distressing time.” The Football Association of Wales announced the news of Speed’s death on its website and expressed its condolences to his relatives. It said: “We ask that everyone respects the family’s privacy at this very sad time.” A Premier League match between Swansea City and Aston Villa went ahead as planned yesterday, although players were visibly upset by the news. Before the game, fans were asked to “stand and remember Gary Speed with a minute’s silence” but instead broke into applause. Welsh international player Craig Bellamy, a former team-mate of Speed, was withdrawn from the match between his club Liverpool and Manchester City. Other players paid tribute to Speed on the Twitter website, including Manchester United and former England star Michael Owen, who wrote: “Just cannot believe the news regarding Gary Speed. We waved at each other a couple of days ago dropping our kids off at school. I’m numb.” Wales captain and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey wrote: “To say I am devastated is an understatement... Today the world has lost a great football manager but even more sadly a great man. He will be missed by all.” A Downing Street spokesman said David Cameron was “deeply saddened” to hear of Speed’s death. “The Prime Minister’s thoughts are with his family and friends on this very sad day for fans everywhere, especially in Wales,” the spokesman added. Labour leader Ed Miliband described the death as tragic and shocking while Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said it was “devastating” news.
GARY SPEED TIMELINE
1969: Born on September 8 in Mancot, Flintshire.
1988: Signs professional terms with Leeds, making his debut at the age of 19.
1992: Plays a key role as the club win the First Division title in the last season before it was rebranded as the Premier League. Leeds’ midfield of Gordon Strachan, David Batty, Gary McAllister and Speed was hailed as a key factor in their success.
1996: After 312 appearances for the West Yorkshire side, during which he scored 57 goals, Speed completes a £3.5million move to Everton. He went on to be named captain of the Toffees and made 65 appearances over two seasons, scoring 17 goals.
1998: February - Joins Newcastle for £5.5million.
May - Plays in United’s FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal.
1999: Speed suffers further FA Cup disappointment as Newcastle lose a second successive final, this time to Manchester United.
2002: Plays in the Champions League with the Magpies.
2004: Joins Bolton for £750,000.
2006: December - Becomes the first player to make 500 Premier League appearances when he features in Wanderers’ 4-0 win over West Ham.
2007: May - Named as Bolton’s first-team coach after Sam Allardyce resigned as manager.
August 25 - Speed’s goal against Reading makes him the only player to have scored in every Premier League season to date. The achievement was later matched and extended by fellow Welshman Ryan Giggs.
October - Returns to playing duties, with new coach Sammy Lee claiming the decision was his while Speed insists he resigned.
December 24 - Sheffield United agree deal to sign Speed on loan from January 1, with a view to a permanent £250,000 move.
2008: November - A back injury ends Speed’s season, leaving him to concentrate on a coaching role.
2009: June - Approached by Swansea over the possibility of succeeding Roberto Martinez as manager.
2010: May 6 - Formally announces his retirement as a player, though he was registered and named as a substitute for August 11’s League Cup tie with Hartlepool.
August 17 - Appointed Sheffield United manager on a three-year contract as successor to Kevin Blackwell.
October 21 - Handed one-match touchline ban by Football Association after being charged in relation to an incident during October 2’s home defeat to Watford.
December 13 - United give Speed permission to speak to the Welsh FA over vacant role of national team coach. Speed takes up the position the next day.
2011: February 8 - Takes charge of Wales for the first time, beating the Republic of Ireland 3-0 in the Carling Nations Cup.
March 29 - Loses first competitive match 2-0 to England at the Millennium Stadium.
September 2 - Records first competitive win, 2-1 at home to Montenegro.
November 12 - Records third win a row and fifth in seven matches in his last game in charge - a 4-1 friendly victory over Norway.
November 27 - The Football Association of Wales confirm he has died.
Wales Online: Football correspondent Chris Wathan recalls the day the world of football was devastated by the death of Gary Speed: Published on Monday 28th November 2014
Death of Leeds legend Gary Speed at 42. WALES manager and Leeds United legend Gary Speed has died, the Football Association of Wales have confirmed.
Sunday was a horrible day for the whole footballing world as the news of Gary Speed’s death was made public at lunch time.
Remembering Gary Speed: The story of a tragic day that still has the power to shock three years on 27 November 2014
Anniversary: Gary Speed tragically died three years to this day
Three years on and it still has the power to stun. Listen back to the YouTube clip of how Radio Five Live reported the news on Sunday, November 27 2011 and the words still shock, still sound as awful, feel as unreal now as they did that morning, writes Chris Wathan for WalesOnline.
“Gary Speed, the national manager, has died.”
The words came from reporter Nigel Adderly, sat alone in the Liberty Stadium press box, his voice trembling and croaking as he spoke. Less than two hours later Swansea City were due to play Aston Villa. The usual football chatter that had been in the air of the room of journalists just a few minutes earlier, laughter and loud arguments over the form of individuals across football the standard fare from any given weekend. No-one knew what was coming. Why would they? The text didn’t make sense, the hope for the following calls to confirm it as untrue was not realised, each confirmation as unreal as the last. A passing glance at the eyes of someone else receiving the same calls brought the reality. John Hartson arrived unaware, pulled to one side as he entered the room and immediately turning around and heading home to deal with the tragedy over his teammates with his family. Bobby Gould wandered around in a daze, Kevin Ratcliffe – who had been playing golf with his former paperboy a few weeks earlier – had a glazed and distant look in his eyes. The scene was surreal. The usual smiles of supporters’ excited matchday anticipation disappearing one by one as the news spread like a devastating domino. Speed had no connection with Swansea as a club apart from the nationality but with the game the televised early kick-off, it felt as though this was the centre of the football world and the shock ate into the air. No-one was thinking about the game. Surely they wouldn’t play it. Soon after it was clear they were, although no-one was quite sure why or how.
Swansea had their Wales internationals Ashley Williams, Joe Allen and Neil Taylor, Villa had James Collins not to mention Shay Given, one of Speed’s closest friends from their time sharing a dressing room at Newcastle. It later emerged it was Given who had heard first, passing on to Collins who in turn called Williams out of the Swansea dressing room to share the news no-one wanted to hear. “Shay told me about 10 minutes before I was due to give my team talk,” then Villa boss Alex McLeish would say after the game. “My blood ran cold and my players were very upset pre-match. “We would have understood if Swansea had wanted to cancel the game, we would certainly have agreed with that. But I think there were too many wheels in motion, that was the official line I heard, but we would have understood.”
Only the powers that be – the Premier League and the broadcasters perhaps more so than Swansea – could tell you whether postponement was ever a possibility, Swans boss at the time Brendan Rodgers later mentioning that his players felt it was the right thing to do in tribute of a football man. Taylor said something similar after the game, although you wondered whether they truly believed it or were just telling themselves that in order to carry out their duty. Certainly the incomprehension and shock felt on the press benches made it difficult to concentrate on what now felt like a meaningless game. Quite what was going through the heads of the players on the pitch only they could tell you.
There was a clue, though, before kick-off. Swansea’s matchday announcer and club chaplain Kev Johns repeated the news that the world now knew: “In the great tradition of the great game of football, I’d ask you now to stand and remember Gary Speed with a minute’s silence.” The silence lasted five seconds before the applause took hold, another ten seconds before ‘One Gary Speed’ emotionally echoed from all four stands. Taylor and Allen looked down, Taylor visibly upset, Rodgers’ later conceding the “thinker” Allen had been badly affected. Williams stared straight ahead expressionless. Given could not hold back the tears as he ran back to the goal. “There was that minute’s silence that turned into applause and I was worried about losing Given,” added McLeish. Given went onto make a great save as the teams played out a 0-0 draw, but I could only tell you that from reading back the reports. The blur of events on the field did not matter. The first line of the WalesOnline report still stands true: “Never has a point seemed so pointless.”
Gould addressed journalists in the press room, the man so mocked in Welsh football speaking movingly about the player he handed the captaincy. No-one was laughing now. Players shot off from the game to be with loved ones. They had done their duty and there can be times where the mind switches automatically to the job to be done in such circumstances. As the day developed, mine like others’ attentions had been on delivering the news and the detail to the readers, all the while the same sense of the untrue hung around. It was not until the next day that it hit me. I was at home watching Sky Sports News when Bryn Law, one of Speed’s closest friends in the media, finally broke down after a day covering the loss Welsh football – and he personally – was feeling. The mixture of sympathy for his family, for his friends and the presence of my own young daughter in the room bringing home the reality for myself. Like hundreds of others, the following day I headed for the FAW headquarters to sign the book of condolences and just to see some of the people he was so close to during his too short time as the man leading our national side to a bright new future. The messages were many and heartfelt. Outside Taylor had hung his Wales shirt with a message to his gaffer. As time as passed, how much it hit those young players is perhaps still not fully appreciated with Craig Bellamy – another of Speed’s closest friends who admitted his own deep difficulty dealing with the loss – only recently stressing not to underestimate the impact on the team. And on individuals. I was lucky enough to have watched Speed as a fan, seeing him as an early hero in the red shirt. I was privileged enough to begin a working relationship with him during a blossoming time for Welsh football. I still find myself unable to delete his number from my phone, angry with myself for accidently deleting an interview on my dictaphone from a press conference where he teased me about something I had written. All that and I hardly knew him, not like family, those friends and those players who should have never had to play that game. But that was Gary Speed, that was his impact on Welsh football, on football in general; as a manager, a player, a person. And that is why it still shocks today, three years on.
Talk of the Tyne: Gary Speed remembered
As the football world mourns the loss of Gary Speed, we reflect on what an immense man he was in the game as a whole and what he meant to us. First thoughts go to Gary`s family. What a tragedy that someone so loved and talented will not be with them for the future. As a person, son, husband and father he left memories which should serve them all proud. His name will always be synonymous with a unique point in history. As a player, he started with Leeds United, bridging the gap between two eras. Following promotion to the top flight, his first team became the last to win the title before the inception of the Premier League. As that famous Leeds side broke up, Gary moved to Everton where he also served with distinction. His leaving came under controversial circumstances, his dignity shining through in an interview with the Merseyside press when he would only say "You know why I`m leaving, but I can`t explain myself publicly because it would damage the good name of Everton Football Club and I`m not prepared to do that." Everton`s loss was Newcastle`s gain. Signed by Kenny Dalglish, he was instrumental in helping the club to an FA Cup final in his first season, opening his goal tally with a cup goal against Barnsley with what proved to be the decider. The feat was repeated during the following season with an equaliser against Crystal Palace before again making the final. Gary played in a variety of roles, capable of being a thrusting and cultured left sided attacking midfielder, gradually becoming more central under the great Sir Bobby Robson. He featured in some of the most magical moments of our Champions League exploits. In 6 years on Tyneside, Gary generated several moments that have been long cherished, whether it was in his creative play, changing the pace of a game to suit the moment or his trademark aerial presence which contributed to his not inconsiderable 40 goals for the club. A trawl of the ToTT message boards long before his sad demise illustrates that he was perhaps one of the most complete players in the history of this proud club. As a holding player he could compare with his former Leeds team mate, David Batty. As a left sided creator, he matched the magical Tommy Craig. His late arrival in the box could result in a devastating headed goal. That versatility was reflected at national level for his Wales team. Towards the end of his career, he was even prepared to slot in at left back, using his experience to motivate and guide those around him. Indeed, the younger players at Newcastle at the time have paid tribute to the lengths that he was prepared to go to, to help the younger player, Shola Ameobi and Steve Taylor prominent among them. The same consideration that Gary showed his team mates was also expressed to the public. ToTT message boards display memories of the time that he would spend with supporters, a lesson to be taken on board by those in the modern game. As was seen in Sir Bobby`s memoirs, Speed`s departure was a surprise and an example of the detachment of those at the top of the club. A consumate professional and selfless team player in his prime had much more to contribute moving on with our best wishes. Gary`s career panned out with a further 4 years at Bolton, followed by a spell at Sheffield United before becoming, as seemed inevitable, a manager for the first time. His country called leading to an amicable parting from the South Yorkshire club and a thrust into international management where he was starting to excell. His last 5 matches as manager of Wales propelled his principality into a stratosphere rarely, if ever, achieved by any other Welsh team. 4 wins in 5 matches for such a small nation is unheard of. This was achieved by balancing a blend of formerly disillusioned senior professionals with some really exciting youngsters and journeymen. Gary would almost certainly have had the world at his feet after achieving so much with so little. Who knows where his managerial career would have led having brought Wales into the top 50 football nations. The legacy of Gary`s humanity is also measured in his charity work. He is one of several who supported the memory of Sir Bobby, as well as helping Shay Given to raise funds for charity through his photogenic good looks that had many of Newcastle`s female folk swooning over his catwalk appearances. To Roger, his father, Louise, his wife, and both his sons, Tommy and Ed, the thoughts of those of us on Tyneside are strongly with you in this most tragic hour. Our pride in Gary is a fraction of yours but is still immense. There are few figures who have transcended national and parochial boundaries. The man who played a huge part in your lives is one of a very rare breed. Gary`s example of dignity, professionalism, warmth and many other qualities besides is a fantastic memory for not just us but the whole of the football world and beyond. Our thoughts are with you. We are grateful for what he contributed in the North East. We have had a mere glimpse into what he must mean to you. You have every reason to be proud of your husband, father and son.
Simon Grayson – “We signed on the same day and played in the youth and reserve teams together. We also did all our coaching badges together. He was a good friend and this is a very sad day. Gary was such a popular person and this is a hard time for everybody.”
Alan Shearer – “Gary was a magnificent person, bright, fun and a wonderful family man – he lit up every room he walked into. I am proud to have been his friend and will miss him dreadfully.”
Mark Hughes – “I’m devastated. He was a privilege to work alongside and call a friend, my thoughts are with his family.”
Kenny Dalglish said today, football becomes irrelevant at times like these. Rip Gary, our thoughts go out to all family and friends.
Sportsmail: John Edwards, Matt Lawton, Colin Young, Chris Wheeler and Neil Moxley
Gary Speed was a champion who taught us all a thing or two
Sportsmail's team of correspondents followed Speed’s adventures over his career. They share their memories of his years as a footballer turned manager.
John Edwards - who followed Speed’s emerging years before he won the title at Leeds (1988-1996)
It came as no surprise to read, in a recent Sportsmail It’s Top Secret column, that Gary would have gone into teaching had he not made it in his chosen profession. A prominent figure in Leeds’ title-winning team (in 1991-92) under Howard Wilkinson, he was renowned for being bright off the pitch as well as on it, as his former team-mate and current Leeds assistant manager Glynn Snodin explained. ‘Our physio Alan Sutton always delighted in firing quiz questions at us,’ he said. ‘Every day, Sutty would come in and say, “Right, I’ll get you with this one”. ‘But he never caught Gary out. Gary used to love being put to the test and it was very rare he didn’t come up with the answer.’ Speed’s manners were every bit as impressive as his knowledge. In those days, back in the early 90s, journalists were allowed to wait outside the players’ entrance at Elland Road, in the hope of a few words before training. He was never likely to clear the back page with anything overly contentious, but he was always courteous and always ready with an insightful thought or two. I last bumped into Gary in the foyer at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, towards the end of his playing days. A decade had elapsed since our paths had previously crossed at Leeds but you wouldn’t have known it. ‘Hello John,’ he said, holding out a hand and smiling broadly. ‘How are you?’ Gary Speed all over.
Matt Lawton - was a local reporter on Merseyside when Speed was an Everton player (1996-1998) and more recently spent time with him on international duty
I remember Gary Speed as the Everton player who would still take my call at a time when I was banned from the club’s Bellefield training ground because of an article a more senior reporter had written in my newspaper. Just as I remember him as the Wales boss who greeted me warmly on the day he revealed his decision to make Aaron Ramsey his new captain. It had been a while, perhaps years, but Gary still made a point of saying hello. He was that kind of guy. A few months later, at the World Cup draw in Rio de Janeiro, he enjoyed a drink with a few English correspondents only to then ease the sudden sense of embarrassment when Fabio Capello arrived. ‘Go on,’ he said. ‘I know you need to go and speak to him. I introduced myself earlier but I’m not sure he actually knew who I was.’ He was such a charming man. A model professional with old-school values. I got to know him as a reporter on Merseyside. In the days when clubs like Everton and Liverpool would allow the press pack in every day after training, Gary was always among those who would stop and chat on the record. He was dignified during what amounted to an acrimonious departure from the club he had supported as a boy, in 1998. He had his reasons for going to Newcastle and among them was a burning desire to add to the success he had enjoyed at Leeds. But if there were other reasons, he did not express them publicly despite the severe criticism he received. Gary was a class act.
Colin Young - enjoyed Speed's company during his time with Shearer and Co at Newcastle (1998-2004)
The North East Football Writers postponed their annual Player of the Year dinner on Sunday night as a mark of respect to one of our adopted sons. There is not much to cheer about up here but last night was meant as a celebration of the successes teams like Darlington, Whitley Bay and Carlisle have enjoyed in the past 12 months as well as honouring Player of the Year Fabricio Coloccini. The event is also closely tied to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and as Gary Speed was from Sir Bobby’s Newcastle era, and one of the great man’s trusted ‘blue chip’ players, it would not have been appropriate to hold the ceremony. One of my abiding memories came to mind as we were making the decision to cancel. It was of Gary sitting between two of my best friends, one a diehard Everton fan, who were boring him at one of the previous ceremonies for what appeared like the entire night. He just politely smiled all the way through it, arguing or agreeing when appropriate and he just waved me away as I apologised for the pair of them. They were just talking football and having a couple of late-night drinks. And the truth was, he was loving it. When I last saw him, the night before Wales played the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in February, he was the same old Speedo. He asked if I knew what Ireland’s team would be and when I told him, it raised a few eyebrows among his staff. If he didn’t believe me, he didn’t show it. He just smiled and winked at me, a look I’ll never forget.
Chris Wheeler - caught up with Speed during the final days of his Barclays Premier League career at Bolton (2004-2008)
Even though Gary Speed was approaching his 35th birthday when he signed for Bolton Wanderers in 2004, he was hardly ever injured during his three-and-a-half-years at the Reebok Stadium due to his dedication to keeping fit. He had the body of a 25-year-old according to manager Sam Allardyce, who always said he wanted to bottle Speed’s DNA to make the perfect footballer, such was his ability and professionalism. No other player embraced Allardyce’s methods more — whether it was ice baths, Bolton’s revolutionary cryotherapy liquid air unit or the tai chi lessons. Speed would organise extra sessions for himself and was fastidiously careful about his diet. ‘The way you can feel from just what you eat is unbelievable,’ he once told Sportsmail. He would encourage the same professionalism from younger team-mates and was invariably last to leave training. Despite only wearing the captain’s armband occasionally, there was no doubt he was Allardyce’s lieutenant on the pitch long before he became player-coach. Staff remember a true professional who was always available to offer advice, speak to the media or attend supporters’ club meetings. One recalled the Christmas parties when Speed would turn up with his two young sons and dote on them. Another remembered how he often stopped by the office after training to help out with The Times crossword rather than going straight home.
Neil Moxley - has been with Speed as he has transformed the fortunes of Wales (2010-11)
Last month, Wales were travelling home from Bulgaria having won their final Euro 2012 qualification fixture. Gary was waiting to board the plane when I asked if he would be the subject of Sportsmail’s It’s Top Secret column. He had a keen sense of humour, without being outrageous, but spotted his opportunity at the final question when he was asked to tell the readers a secret. ‘I used to be Kevin Ratcliffe’s paperboy,’ he said of the Everton legend. ‘He lived in this huge mansion. It took about 15 minutes to walk up the drive to the house but he was really tight with his money. He never tipped at Christmas.’ Ratcliffe, travelling home from his duties with BBC Wales, was, of course, sitting within earshot. It prompted a friendly argument between the pair, by the end of which Speed had admitted he was the world’s worst paperboy.
This gently chiding nature, easy-going manner and dedication to self-improvement struck a chord with players. ‘I was never good enough to get through giving anything less than 100 per cent as a player. I had to work hard at it every day,’ he said in an answer to another question. His humility and commitment also appealed to the FA of Wales when they looked to appoint a bright, young coach. Results were proving he would have made a decent fist of it, too. Welsh football is poorer, far poorer, for his passing.
Gary Speed 1969-2011
Gary Speed: A football man of principle who engendered huge affection
The death of Gary Speed at 42 united the football world in shock, astonishment and disbelief
Gary Speed's career yielded great honour. He won a league championship winner's medal and earned 85 caps for Wales. One by one they came forward, to the microphone or on the mobile, speaking from their homes or on the way to a game, to talk about Gary Speed. Voices stiffened with shock, with astonishment, with disbelief.
Voices of football men.
Men who had played with him, men who had played for him. Men with nothing but good to say about a player whose career had yielded great honour and engendered enormous affection, disrupted by what seem now, in the light of the reports on Sunday that Speed had killed himself, to be only the most insignificant of disappointments. Men who, like the rest of the football nation, had listened to him on Saturday lunchtime, chatting away on Football Focus with Gary McAllister, his old Leeds United team-mate, seemingly happy enough with life, work and the world. The most resonant of all the tributes came from Howard Wilkinson, his former Leeds manager, who had put him in United's first team as a 19-year-old. "He had a life of success to look forward to," Wilkinson told Radio 5 Live, his voice hollowed by grief and incomprehension. It was not just fellow professionals in the game who emerged to pay their tributes. There was real sorrow in the words of the young women who used social media to testify how, as girls, they had fixed his poster to their bedroom walls. For he was as attractive a footballer, in every sense, as the modern English game has produced, as well as one of the most effective and admirable. There will be no disputing that Gary Speed was a football man par excellence. A 22-year career in the professional game, with five of England's most historic clubs. Almost 700 appearances – 535 of them in the Premier League – for Leeds, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers, then Sheffield United in the Championship, at each of which he earned respect and reverence. Eighty-five caps for Wales, usually toiling against the odds. A league championship winner's medal. Two FA Cup finals. A decision to retire last year, at 40. An MBE for services to football, followed by the manager's job at Sheffield United and then with Wales. In the old days he would have been called a left-half. In the modern world he was a midfield player able to cover a variety of functions, with a particular gift for turning up, like a Welsh Martin Peters, in space and unannounced to finish a move with a decisive shot or a header that seemed almost excessively powerful for one of his slender build. Perhaps that Leeds midfield of 1991-92, the all-British one – two Scots, an Englishman and a Welshman – that powered the team that won the First Division championship in the last year before the Premier League, is the unit with which he will be most vividly identified: the tricky wing play of Gordon Strachan, the football radar of McAllister, the brusque ball-winning of David Batty and the all-round dynamism of the young Speed, for whom the league title came at the age of 22. They were reunited last week at a 20th anniversary dinner.
Any speculation on the cause of Speed's death on Sunday morning seemed intrusive. Acquaintances spoke of his wife, Louise, and their two young sons. Michael Owen, a near neighbour and a former Merseyside rival, tweeted: "We waved at each other the other day dropping our kids off at school." Here, it seemed, was proof absolute that anyone's public face, no matter how famous or how obscure, is merely the tip of their real life. The rest of the iceberg remains unknown to the outside world. The unspoken thought was this: it can't have been about football. Speed's entire record formed a testament to his natural aptitude for the game on the one hand and to his professionalism on the other, the latter evidenced in a dedication that made him, at one time, the first player to have scored goals in every season since the formation of the Premier League, and the holder of the record for the number of appearances in the competition (both marks later surpassed, both by Ryan Giggs and the latter by David James). His career as a manager held out the entirely reasonable hope of similar distinction. When he accepted the Welsh FA's offer to take over from John Toshack last year, urged on by his compatriots Mark Hughes and Robbie Savage, the team were in a terrible state. In the course of 10 months he lifted them from their lowest Fifa ranking of 117th back into the top 50, with wins in four of their last five matches. Their most recent success, earlier this month, was a resoundingly confident 4-1 defeat of Norway in Cardiff, the opening goals coming from Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy, players who seemed to symbolise Speed's success in blending the promise of youth with the best of the experienced players available to him. Building on a core of young players who had worked together in Brian Flynn's excellent Under-21 sides, he had laid the foundation for a future in which a team steered by Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey – whom he made captain at 20 – could look forward to the coming 2014 World Cup qualifying games with a more justified optimism than any Wales team had dared to adopt for decades.
He was also that rare thing in modern sport, a man of principle. He left one of his clubs after having been required to give a half-time talk, as captain, in place of his manager, whom drink had rendered temporarily incapable of speech. The fans of the club in question were mystified by his departure, but he had signed a confidentiality agreement and never spoke of the incident. He was a boyhood Everton fan and on Sunday, a mile away from the ground at which he had been revered, Anfield joined in the remembrance. It was there that he scored perhaps the most memorable of his goals: a late equaliser, headed in beneath the eyes of the Kop. On Sunday they, like the rest of football, bowed their heads in silent sadness.
Henry Winter: 27th November 2011
Gary Speed found dead: Wales manager was a fine footballer, good manager and a wonderful man
A light has gone out in football and the sport suddenly seems a far darker place. A fine footballer, good manager and wonderful man, Gary Speed has gone, leaving behind a grieving family, a sport in mourning and countless friends shivering with a feeling of utter desolation.
Speed gave so much to the game and he had so much more to give. It’s such a waste, such a tragedy. When news broke of his death on Sunday, a wave of despair swept through the sport he served so well. Speed was so well-liked. He played the game the right way: with commitment, with honesty and with a sense of adventure. Those seeking Speed’s legacy need only look around. It’s there in the photographs on the walls of Elland Road, pictures that capture for eternity the image of him and his Leeds United celebrating the 1992 title. For Leeds United fans, and all who love attractive football, memories will never fade of that well-balanced midfield quartet of Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister, David Batty and Speed. Only 22 at the time, Speed played with a maturity beyond his callow years. His intelligence shone through. His legacy can be seen in the sight of Aaron Ramsey and a vibrant young Wales side winning four of their last five games, a tribute to the organisation and spirit instilled in them by their manager. Far more personally, Speed’s legacy remains in the sporting potential of two young sons, whose depth of loss cannot even begin to be imagined. Speed achieved so much in his 42 years. One of the many tragic strands to this numbing story is that he had so much more to offer. After the Football Association of Wales released that sorrowful statement, I received a call from one of his horse racing associates. I mentioned that Speed “loved racing”, to which his friend replied: “Gary loved everything." And he did. He loved his family, his profession and his many, many friends. He spent part of Saturday morning organising events for this week, a round of golf with a friend here, a meal with an old team-mate there. Professionally, life was good. Under his guidance, Wales were on the rise, even peaking at 45 in the Fifa world rankings after a low point of 117. Speed was enjoying deserved plaudits. As a man, Speed had many qualities. Even after long reflection, it is hard to think of many more popular individuals in his chosen industry. He was just a nice guy in a sport that can turn people cynical. Incredibly generous with his time, Speed would engage any fan wanting an autograph or photograph. He would always look people in the eye, always treat them well. There was none of that superstar dashing to the supercar arrogance. A mixture of politeness and banter spilt from his lips. Any time in his company was uplifting. Whenever football is being decried by assorted critics, defenders of the faith could always point to Speed, a footballer who never left the fray without his shirt soaked in sweat, who trained as he played, who deservedly was appointed MBE for services to football in 2010. Using that dexterous left foot, Speed manipulated the ball, whether still or moving, over short range and long. He earned respect for his industry, his willingness to play a range of roles and for his remarkable consistency. His dedication to his craft was seen in his holding the record for most Premier League appearances until overtaken by David James. He never let a club down. Speed was first into training, first to help with community projects and first to the ball. He took responsibility, a trait ensuring frequent association with the captain’s armband. From Leeds to Everton, Newcastle to Bolton and Sheffield United, his clubs all shook with pain and disbelief as the dreadful news emerged. The great esteem in which Speed was held was seen in the reaction of his former team-mates. John Hartson could not face broadcasting at the Liberty Stadium and returned home, the big man inconsolable. Tears slid down the face of Shay Given as he prepared to keep goal for Aston Villa against Swansea. Up at Anfield, one of his closest friends, Craig Bellamy, could not bear the idea of focusing on a mere sport at a time like this. “He taught me so much," tweeted Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi, “not just on the field but off the pitch as well." Nobody could believe “Speedo”, their friend, their mentor, was gone. He’d seemed indestructible. Just as his name was always on the team-sheet, week in, week out, season in, season out, so Speed seemed part of the football landscape for years to come. Photogenic, eloquent and full of thought, Speed could have gone into the television studio but management always appealed to him. During his days at Bolton, his passion for a future in management was inescapable when I encountered him at the training ground. He talked of the great managers he had worked under, legends of the game like Sir Bobby Robson, and how they had inspired him. During their time at Newcastle, Speed lived close to Robson and the midfielder often acted as chauffeur to the manager, and would spend the journey to the training ground listening to the oracle, absorbing knowledge. Interviewing Robson one day, I noticed a smiling Speed in the background, waiting patiently. I mentioned it to Speed a month or so later, apologising for delaying his passenger, pointing out in mitigation that once Robson was in full flow, particularly when reminiscing about Italia 90, nothing could stop him. Speed laughed, rolling his eyes at the image of the beloved Bobby chatting away. Speed was very much the team man, the ultimate in selflessness, even running the London Marathon for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. He also admitted being happy to bide his time, knowing how many tips on the managerial art would come his way on the drive home. Those craving an insight into the characteristics that made Speed a manager of increasing substance need look no further than Ramsey. Strong questions were asked of Speed when he appointed Ramsey as captain of Wales. Too inexperienced, said the critics. Too inhibited, they added. Too scarred psychologically after that Ryan Shawcross tackle. Speed confided later that he found the extensive criticism of his decision difficult. Yet he was vindicated. Ramsey has grown into the role, grasping the responsibility with increasing alacrity, assisted by Speed’s able man-management.
Having noted how Ramsey froze alongside the warrior-like John Terry in the tunnel at the Millennium Stadium before last season’s Wales-England match, Speed worked on Ramsey, telling him that he was good enough for this level. Because the words came from Speed, such a likeable individual with so much experience, Ramsey listened, learned and grew. Speed leaves so much good behind — and so much anguish that a special person has gone.
Gary Speed found dead: tributes paid to Wales manager: By Telegraph staff
Tributes pour in for Wales manager who has taken his own life at 42 years old.
16.52 Statement from Downing Street: Quote: The Prime Minister was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Gary Speed, who was greatly respected by football fans across the country both as a player and manager.The Prime Minister's thoughts are with his family and friends on this very sad day for fans everywhere, especially in Wales."
16.25 The flags at Leeds' Elland Road Stadium are flying at half mast in honour of Gary Speed.
16.00 Dalglish on Speed: Quote: He was a smashing lad and was really well respected. We don't know the circumstances obviously, and there'll be a lot of people who are saddened at what's happened, but I think the most important people at this particular moment in time is his wife and kids - they must be absolutely devastated. It's a times like this that the football becomes a wee bit irrelevant. He was a very respected man in and around football, not only for his ability but for the guy as a person. I signed Gary for £5million from Everton and he did a fantastic job for us at Newcastle, during the time I was there and after I'd left as well."
15.53 Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, on his decision to leave out Craig Bellamy from this afternoon's squad: Quote It was best for us to make the decision for Craig. He was very, very close to Gary - he was almost a mentor, somebody he really admired and looked up to. Bellamy was a bit upset so there's no way that a game of football is more important than grieving, so that was the decision I made.
15.33 Richard Scudamore, the Premier League's chief executive: "This is truly tragic news and the thoughts of all of those associated with the Premier League are with Gary's family and friends. Gary was a wonderful ambassador for our league, and indeed all of football, but more than that he was a decent man widely respected throughout the game and beyond. Gary will go down in history as one of our iconic players, he was a stand-out professional of the modern game and I'm sure all football fans across Britain will be deeply saddened at his untimely passing."
15.26 Craig Bellamy has pulled out of the Liverpool squad ahead of their game against Manchester City, which kicks off in just over half an hour.
15.23 Here's Robin van Persie on Twitter: Twitter: I heard the sad news about Gary Speed, great footballer my condolences and sympathies to his family.
15.05 Bobby Gould, who coached Speed for Wales: Quote: He was a great pro. He would play anywhere for you - left back, left wing, centre of midfield, wide left. It's such a tragedy. People are just stunned. I saw John Hartson earlier and I said 'have you heard about Gary?' The big man just cried and cried. We cuddled each other. He's gone home (from the Liberty Stadium). That is his respect towards Gary to say 'I can't work this afternoon' Speedo was his pal. They were buddies. Gary was the ultimate professional.
14.50 Mark Bowen, a Welsh team mate of Speed's and later a coach of the national side said: Quote: I'm totally stunned and devastated, you feel completely numb. It goes without saying that the plaudits for the man himself will come thick and fast. I played with him and I knew him as a colleague for many years. He was captain of Wales when the likes of Mark Hughes and Ian Rush were still playing and I think that tells you a lot about the man he was. I can't put into words what a fantastic guy he was. In that short space of time (with Wales) he showed the talent he had for working with the players. He had such a bright, fantastic future to look forward to in football but that is secondary...it's about his family and his boys.
14.44 Here is reader Varun Nair: E-mail: Absolutely speechless, I had great hopes of him being a great manager, and leading Wales to the 2014 World Cup. RIP Gary Speed.
14.34 The north-east branch of the Football Writers' Association has postponed its annual awards dinner, which was due to be held tonight, as a mark of respect for Speed.
14.32 Graham Clutton is at the Liberty Stadium for Telegraph Sport: Telegraph: It was a minute's silence with a difference at the Liberty Stadium. Neil Swarbrick blew his whistle and after one lone supporter started to clap, another 20,000 followed suit. It was a wonderful tribute to a man who had captured the hearts and minds of a nation over the past 25 years.
14.30 Former Wales team-mate Ryan Giggs has spoken: Quote: I am totally devastated. Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate and friend. Words cannot begin to describe how sad I feel at hearing this awful news. It goes without saying my thoughts are with his family at this tremendously sad time.
14.27 Reader Simon Evans has sent me an email: E-mail: Absolutely stunned. Went to Wales vs Norway game the other week and talk was all about what a great job Speed had done and how he would get us qualified. Just stunned. Thoughts to his family.
14.00 Here is John Ley on Speed: Telegraph: Gary Speed's death is as stunning as it is incomprehensible, now is the time to honour a great man
13.50 Here are the Swansea and Aston Villa players observing the minute's silence:
13.46 Michael Owen on Twitter: Twitter: Just cannot believe the news regarding Gary Speed. We waved at each other a couple of days ago dropping our kids off at school. I'm numb. He has died aged 42. So sad. He lived local to me and we knew his family. He leaves behind 2 sons. Tragic.
13.43 Graeme Souness also paid tribute to Speed at the beginning of Sky's coverage this afternoon: Quote: I can't say that I knew Gary, but the little that I do know about him from Dean Saunders, who used to room with him. He was a deep thinker, a thoughtful intelligent man.
13.38 An audibly choked Howard Wilkinson, who managed Speed at his first club Leeds United, has spoken to Sky Sports: Quote: It's such a loss. I cannot begin to try to understand what his parents are thinking. I knew his mum and dad, and particularly his dad very well. I've met a lot of people in my time, a lot of sportsmen. Gary had none of those things which we associate with sportsmen. He was ordinary as a bloke, very nice, very genuine, very honest, very hardworking. He was a joy to manage. I think I played Gary in every position apart from goalkeeper, and never even once did his face change or did he seem annoyed when I told him. He had a terrific sense of loyalty and commitment to the people around him. This is a genuine loss to the world.
13.34 A delay to kick off at the Liberty Stadium, as distraught Villa keeper Shay Given had to take some time to compose himself on the sideline.
13.33 Celtic midfielder and Wales international Joe Ledley on Twitter: Twitter: So saddened by the loss of a great guy, manager & footballer. It was a pleasure to work under him. My thoughts are with his family.
13.31 The ground has begun applauding and singing Speed's name instead of staying silent.
13.29 Announcement before minute's silence now taking place at Swansea. The ground spontaneously became silent as the players walked towards the centre circle. Emotive tribute by the Liberty Stadium announcer.
13.27 The teams are out at the Liberty Stadium for Swansea v Aston Villa. Both sets of fans sing "one Gary Speed, there's only one Gary Speed."
13.22 Some more tweets about Speed from fellow footballers: Xabi Alonso: Twitter: RIP Gary Speed. My first PL game game was against him, he showed me in that game what is british football about. Jack Wilshere:Twitter: Wow shocked at the news about Gary Speed! thoughts are with his family! RIP. Aaron Hughes:
Twitter: Can't believe the news.I'm devastated. One of the greatest guys I've ever had the privilege of knowing. An idol in every sense......
13.20 And here's Everton's Tim Cahill: Twitter: Gary Speed was the ultimate pro on and off the pitch. So sad to lose someone so special to Football, Friends, Fans, Family. Rest in Peace mate.
13.19 Wales team-mate Robbie Savage has paid tribute to Speed: Twitter: The world has lost a great man in Gary speed I'm devastated spoke to him yesterday morning why ! Why. Why !! I'll miss him so much x
13.16 Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has spoken: Quote: It's absolutely horrific. Gary was doing fanstastic with the Welsh team. There's three of our lads in the dressing room, James Collins, a Welsh international, Shay Given was a very good friend of Gary's. And Jermaine Jenas played with him for a while at Newcastle. They're very upset. We would have fully understood if Swansea wanted to call the game off.
13.12 Gary Neville on Sky Sports: Quote: It's absolutely devastating. My career and his crossed many times, I played against him many times. Everyone that I know that knew him couldn't say enough good things about him. We think of football as being important, but it's not really.
13.10 Sky Sports are covering the Swansea v Aston Villa game. Horribly sombre mood inside the ground by the looks of things. Shay Given, a friend of Speed's, will start in goal for Villa.
13.02 Horrible news this afternoon that Gary Speed, manager of Wales, has been found dead in his Cheshire home at the age of 42. Here's Chris Bascombe's news story with all the details we have at the moment: Telegraph Gary Speed dies at age 42 after apparent suicide. This blog will keep you updated with all the news and reaction as we get it.
By Graham Clutton: 27th November 2011
Gary Speed found dead: former Wales manager Bobby Gould sums up emotion in Principality
Bobby Gould, the former Wales manager, summed up the emotion that has swept through the Principality following Gary Speed’s death when he broke down in tears after Swansea’s Premier League game against Aston Villa on Sunday. Gould appointed Speed as his captain when he took charge of Wales in 1995 and the pair worked closely during Gould’s four-year tenure. He said: “It’s a very emotional time for me, especially with someone like Gary because he was my captain. It’s such a sad, sad day for football, especially for Welsh football, because he has done such a wonderful job in such a short space of time. “I remember a few months back, he went over to Ireland to a tournament where he had some pretty bad results. He was attacked by the media and I phoned him, to try and encourage him. I said 'You will come good, just believe in yourself’. “Gary was a great person, a great player and a great skipper. I will miss him. He was one of my top three people in football.”
Wales centre half James Collins said: “It’s a sad loss of a man who was doing great, great things for Welsh football. It’s heartbreaking, I can’t speak highly enough of him. “We were on the verge of great things, so everyone who’s been involved or who has ever met him, is going to be devastated.”
The 42- year-old, one of the most respected young managers in the game, was found hanged at his North Wales home this morning. Speed enjoyed a glittering career as a player at Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton before moving into coaching with his national team. He has been leading a renaissance of the Welsh national side in recent weeks, but his life has been tragically cut short by what police are treating as suicide. A spokesman for Cheshire Police confirmed: "At 7.08am this morning, Sunday 27 November, police were informed of an incident at Aldford Road, Huntington. Officers went to the scene where a 42-year-old man was found dead. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and next of kin have been informed." The spokesman added that the man was found hanged. Gary Speed's death is as stunning as it is incomprehensible, now is the time to honour a great man The news of Gary Speed's death is as stunning as it is incomprehensible. Here was a young man, personable, polite, intelligent and with such great prospects, driven to take his own life.
By John Ley: 27th November 2011
Too soon: Gary Speed was found dead in his home aged 42
The reasons will no doubt, be revealed in time, and whatever they are, now is not the time for finger pointing or accusations. Now is the time to honour a great playing career and wonder what might have been for Wales. If losing in the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup was painful for the Principality, losing their football manager is a tragedy many will not be able to understand. I got to know Gary when he joined the Wales senior squad, in 1990, and was fortunate enough to witness many of his appearances when he sparked in a midfield alongside the likes of Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs and Robbie Savage. I got to like him as he was polite, fairly trusting of the media – not always common – and happy to have a chat. I remember one night, in Cardiff after a Wales’ Player of the Year dinner, talking to him about his interest in writing and how he was considering, one day, moving into the world of sports journalism. It was only an idea, but he did seem keen and, I am sure, had he decided to go down that route he would have made a success of it. There were desperate times as Wales lunged from one defeat to another in the later years. There were also fun times, like a night in the British Ambassadors’ home in Doha when Wales played Qatar and we all were invited to join a soirée. He was happy, enjoying his job but also enjoying the fringe benefits of being an international player. He also beat me at pool later that night ... As a player, he was solid and though he had his critics when he moved into management, he was just beginning to make his mark with three straight victories following an impressive performance at Wembley where he saw Wales narrowly lose to England. Raymond Verheijen, who Speed brought in to assist him, has experience all over the world but was persuaded to join Wales because, as he told me in Dublin back in February, “I see something special in Gary. He can be a great success." The last time I saw Speed was as at a press conference to announce that Aaron Ramsey was Wales’ new captain. Afterwards I told him I thought it was a brave move, a good step and that Arsène Wenger would be pleased. “Are you sure?” he said. “We’ll see.” As it was Wenger wasn’t happy, but Ramsey has gone on to prosper for club and country. My last conversation with Speed was about the fact that after 20 years I was no longer to be covering Wales due to a job change. He was visibly surprised, wished me all the best for the future and with the words “If there’s anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.” If only I could do something for Gary Speed...
By Chris Bascombe: 27th November 2011
Gary Speed found dead: football unites in grief and to pay tribute to Wales manager
The football world was united in grief on Sunday night following the suicide of Wales manager Gary Speed. The 42 year-old’s death caused disbelief across all levels of the game, with the two venues that hosted Sunday’s Premier League’s fixtures reflecting the sense of shock. There were emotional scenes at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium as a planned moment of silence turned into a minute of applause in Speed’s honour. Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given, a close friend of Speed, was reduced to tears. Earlier, there had been discussions about postponing the fixture, but it went ahead on police advice. At Anfield, there was a minute’s silence, impeccably observed by supporters of Liverpool and Manchester City. Speed’s former Wales team-mate Craig Bellamy pulled out of the fixture upon hearing of the tragedy. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who signed Speed while working at Newcastle, explained how Bellamy was too distressed to play. “It is devastating and it might be a cliché but these things make football secondary,” said Dalglish. “Gary was a fantastic footballer and more importantly a decent fella. There will be a lot of people saddened. The most important people are his wife and two boys and my heart goes out to them. They will get all the support they need.” Bellamy was particularly affected by the news. “It was a decision I decided to take on Craig’s behalf,” Dalglish added. “I felt Craig – who was really close to Gary – would not be in the frame of mind to play. “He was like a mentor for Craig. I took the decision that there are more important things than a football match so he took the day off.” Speed, who had appeared on the BBC’s Football Focus programme and watched Manchester United’s game with Newcastle at Old Trafford just hours before taking his own life, was discovered at his house in Cheshire at just after 7am. Police quickly issued a statement saying there were no suspicious circumstances. His wife, Louise, and two children, Edward, 14, and Thomas, 13, were believed to be staying at the house last night. Incomprehension at the circumstances of Speed’s death was balanced by an overwhelming sense of sorrow that one of the most talented players and managers of his generation had gone.
Prime Minister David Cameron led the tributes, which underlined the regard in which Speed was held. A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Gary Speed, who was greatly respected by football fans across the country both as a player and manager.”
The Football Association of Wales confirmed just after noon on Sunday the news that Speed had been found hanged. Chief executive Jonathan Ford said: “All the football family of Wales are devastated by the news. My thoughts are with his wife and family at this difficult time.”
Speed’s former Wales team-mate Ryan Giggs summed up the mood of disbelief. “I am totally devastated,” he said. “Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate and friend. It goes without saying my thoughts are with his family.”
Former England captain Alan Shearer played alongside Speed at St James’ Park. He said: “Gary was a magnificent person, bright, fun and a wonderful family man. He lit up every room he walked into. I will miss him dreadfully.”
Speed enjoyed a successful playing career at Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United, with all his former clubs express sympathy. “Gary was an inspirational and much-loved player at Newcastle,” read a club statement. “He was an excellent servant to the club, the ultimate professional, and an exceptional role model for younger players.” Howard Wilkinson, who managed Speed at the start of his career at Leeds United, called Speed’s death “tragic” and said he was a “star in the truest sense”. He added: “I knew his dad, his wife and his boys very well. He was a joy to manage.” Speed had his first taste of coaching at Bolton, whose chairman Phil Gartside said he was “stunned”. Everton’s chief executive Robert Elstone expressed similar sorrow. Many within the football world used Twitter to pay their tributes.
“Just cannot believe the news regarding Gary Speed,” wrote Michael Owen, who lives close to Speed’s home in Huntington, Cheshire. “We waved at each other a couple of days ago dropping our kids off at school. I’m numb.” Speed’s former international team-mate Robbie Savage revealed on Twitter that he had spoken to Speed on the telephone on Saturday and he had sounded “upbeat”. “My captain, my hero, my mate is gone and I can’t understand why,” he said on Sunday night. “The ironic thing is that he was the guy you would always go to if you ever had a problem.” While Speed’s death was felt far and wide, the impact particularly felt in Wales. He had managed the national team since Dec 2010, leading the side from 110th to 45th in the Fifa rankings. Before becoming manager, he played with Wales as part of a 14-year international career, winning 85 caps with the team.
During a television appearance on Saturday, Wales manager Gary Speed spoke of his hopes for the future of his team, and later made plans to play golf with friends.
Colleagues noticed nothing unusual in the behaviour of a man who, over a career spanning two decades, had found remarkable success on and off the pitch. But the next day, British football was mourning the loss of one of its brightest talents following his death at the age of 42. The former Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton player is believed to have taken his own life early yesterday morning at his home near Chester. Police were called to an address in Huntington in Cheshire after an emergency call at 7.08am. There they found Speed's body. He is reported to have hung himself. A police statement said: "There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death." He leaves a wife and two young sons.
Ryan Giggs, the Manchester United winger who played alongside Gary Speed for Wales, led a succession of tributes. He said: "I am totally devastated. Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate and friend. Words cannot begin to describe how sad I feel at hearing this awful news. It goes without saying my thoughts are with his family."
Manchester United's Michael Owen, a near neighbour of the Wales manager, said via Twitter: "Just cannot believe the news regarding Gary Speed. We waved at each other a couple of days ago dropping our kids off at school. I'm numb."
At the Liberty Stadium where Swansea hosted Aston Villa yesterday afternoon, a minute's silence transformed into applause in Gary Speed's honour with supporters of both teams chanting his name.
Shay Given, the Aston Villa goalkeeper and a team-mate of Gary Speed's at Newcastle United, was in tears. Craig Bellamy was withdrawn from Liverpool's match against Manchester City. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said: "There's no way that a game of football is more important than grieving."
A dynamic midfielder, Gary Speed was in the Leeds side that won the last First Division Championship in 1992. He later played for Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton and Sheffield United, where he played his final game last year. Only Ryan Giggs and David James, the former England goalkeeper, have made more Premier League appearances than his 535. He was capped 85 times for Wales, a record for an outfield player, rarely missing a match in an age when it is common for top players from lesser nations to choose their games. After a brief spell as manager of Sheffield United, he became manager of Wales last December. Under Gary Speed's leadership a young side rose from 117 in the world rankings to 45. After a long and successful playing career, Gary Speed had only been in charge of the Wales team for 10 matches but was proving to be a manager of promise. He was interviewed by the BBC on Saturday and spoke of the footballing challenges facing Wales. Last week he was in Brussels for a meeting on the 2014 World Cup campaign and lunched with Craig Levein, his Scotland counterpart, who said the Wales manager was "laughing and joking". His death prompted a flood of tributes from public figures, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband. Gary Speed's playing career spanned the start of the Premier League and the arrival of Sky cash that transformed the sport and the rewards available. Howard Wilkinson, his manager at Leeds United, said: "I've met a lot of people in my time, a lot of sportsmen. Gary had none of those things which we associate with sportsmen. He was ordinary as a bloke, very nice, very genuine, very honest, very hardworking."
Published on 30 Nov 2011: Wrestling with the demons of depression
As kids,” the novelist Caryl Phillips once said, “it was all we had to be proud of.” Phillips, who was born in St Kitts and who grew up in Leeds, was referring to Leeds United. Reviled by the supporters of other clubs, Phillips and his mates revelled in the success of a club which, for a golden period between the 1960s and the mid-1970s, ruled with imperial arrogance over English football. This was the feared team featuring Billy Bremner and Peter Lorimer, Johnny Giles and Jack Charlton, vividly portrayed in David Peace’s book The Damned United and the subsequent film. Inevitably Leeds’ lustre faded, and there followed years when the memory of past glory hung heavy over Elland Road. In the 1990s, however, they surged again to the top of the league. This, as Phillips has joyously recalled, was the team of an Englishman, David Batty; two Scotsmen, Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan; and a Welshman, Gary Speed. To their fans, they were idols. No pedestal was too high for them; no praise sufficiently hyperbolic. And who can blame them? For the likes of Phillips they had made the most fervent wishes come true. Victory may be sweet but more importantly it can never be revised. It is a moment to savour, to hold close, to remember until their dying breath. To invest so much in what is supposed to be “just” a game may seem to some people absurd, and it probably is, but to those who used to be called dyed-in-the-wool supporters, it is their all.
The emotional reaction to the apparent suicide of Gary Speed is thus understandable, more so I would argue than the media-orchestrated outpouring of grief which followed the death of Princess Diana. Speed, who was 42, appeared to be blessed. He was a millionaire. By all accounts he was a decent bloke. He was married with two children and had countless friends and admirers. Having retired from playing, he was the manager of Wales. After 10 games in charge, he had helped them climb the world rankings by more than 70 places. The day before he died he had appeared on the BBC’s Football Focus where he gave no inkling of what was soon to befall him.
Little wonder the recurring question is: why? Do not expect any answer from this quarter. Go, if you dare, to the internet where the ignoramuses are in full cry. What is truly alarming is that Speed’s apparent suicide is not as unusual as one might suppose among sportsmen. For example, the recently announced winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year is Ronald Reng’s A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke, the story of a young German goalkeeper who took his own life two years ago. Enke suffered from depression which is much more common among sportsmen and women than might be supposed. For reasons not immediately apparent, cricketers are stricken by it more than any other sportspeople. Cricket devotees point to the loneliness of long overseas tours, empty nights spent in provincial hotels, the relentless pressure and the identification of personal error. It may be a team game but when a batsmen loses his confidence or a bowler his length, the pain is plain and there is no-one to share it with. Form, they say, is transitory. Once gone it may be lost forever. These days sporting stars are reminded repeatedly of the thinness of the line that divides success and failure. One minute you’re being given a million quid simply to turn up, the next you’re screaming at your agent to find you a berth on Strictly Come Dancing. Ask Tiger Woods. Or Mike Tindall. Or anyone who’s daft or desperate enough to go into football management.
In its innocent Corinthian past, sport was not supposed to be like this. Then, it was meant to transport athletes from the humdrum. It was a release, a diversion, the antidote to “real” life. It was writers and artists, rock and movie stars who killed themselves. In truth, though, there have always been those who wrestled not just with their opponents but with demons determined on self-destruction. Such, it would appear, was the admirable Gary Speed’s fate.
Published in December 2011 in the Yorkshire Post, Leon Wobschall looks back at six great Leeds United games of the 80s and 90s to celebrate the Elland Road career of Gary Speed.
Gary Speed: Key games for Leeds United PART 1
Sheffield United 2 Leeds United 3, Division 1, Bramall Lane, Sunday, April 26, 1992
A windy lunch-time in South Yorkshire was followed by a climactic afternoon on Merseyside which led to dark clouds over the red half of Manchester and the warmest of fronts in Leeds – where it was simply raining champagne for Gary Speed and Co. It was a true “Where were you when?” moment in United’s history as Howard Wilkinson’s class of 1991-92 etched themselves into Elland Road folklore to lift the Division One title for the first time since the Super Leeds days of the 1960s and 1970s under Don Revie. And it was all the more enriching for pipping their foes from Old Trafford in the process, with Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Alex Ferguson’s ailing Red Devils – thanks to goals from Ian Rush and Mark Walters – kick-starting the mother of all parties in West Yorkshire by tea-time. United’s players had been glued to the television screens after doing their side of the bargain – just – courtesy of a 3-2 win at Bramall Lane. It was the first act in an extraordinary Sunday with Fergie’s troops then failing to secure the draw they required at Anfield to keep their title hopes alive – in an afternoon full of heart-stopping drama, tension and even a touch of farce. A crazy few hours in Sheffield saw the visitors fraught with nerves at the outset, with their tentative start duly punished when veteran Blades striker Alan Cork fired home in front of the Kop. But a madcap moment in front of the 5,000-strong travelling contingent restored parity, with Speed playing a telling part. This time it was the Blades who had the jitters as a comical defensive clearance from home captain Brian Gayle rebounded off the onrushing Speed straight onto the body of Rod Wallace and into the back of the net. In the melee, Paul Beesley – later to sign for Leeds – and goalkeeper Mel Rees were both injured, with the latter struggling throughout the second period. Unsing hero Jon Newsome, largely a fringe player that season, then made the most decisive of contributions in his home city, stealing in at the far post to head home Gary McAllister’s curling free-kick with Rees a virtual bystander. But the advantage, in keeping with a daft old 90 minutes at Bramall Lane, lasted just a few minutes before predatory striker Lee Chapman fired home, but at the wrong end, firing in a cross-shot from John Pemberton into his own net. The twist in the tale arrived 13 minutes from time, when a Gayle-force moment took the Whites to the brink of Championship glory. The Blades skipper got into a pickle under pressure from Wallace and United substitute Eric Cantona and headed over his own keeper Rees and into an unguarded net. Victory secured, the Whites players then went their separate ways to watch the Anfield action unfold. Speed watched the game at close friend Newsome’s parents house in Sheffield and Cantona, David Batty and McAllister headed to Chapman’s rural retreat at Boroughbridge. And later on that afternoon, a compelling title race was over and signed, sealed and delivered for United, who were presented with the trophy the following Saturday when Wilkinson’s all-conquering crew played Norwich City. What a team, what a season.... United: Lukic, Newsome, Dorigo, Batty, Fairclough, Whyte, Strachan (Shutt), Rod Wallace, Chapman, McAllister, Cantona, Speed.
Gary Speed: Key games for Leeds United PART 2
Southampton 0 Leeds United 4, Divison One, The Dell, Wednesday, August 28, 1991
Two crackers on the south coast from Gary Speed added to his burgeoning reputation as United avenged a pitiful 2-0 defeat at The Dell five months earlier. The emphatic 4-0 victory set the Whites up nicely for their forthcoming weekend clash with arch-rivals Manchester United, with the pair going on to slug it out for silverware over the next eight months. The win was United’s biggest at the Dell for almost 70 years and they were pretty much in total command from the word go. Young home talent in the shape of Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier may have been on show – but it was United’s poster-boy who stole the limelight. The immaculate Speed blasted United into the lead from 14 yards out on 23 minutes, after Neil Ruddock failed to control Mel Sterland’s right-wing cross. Lee Chapman and Gary McAllister hit the woodwork ahead of the game erupting on 56 minutes when Ruddock was dismissed for a tackle on ex-Saint Rod Wallace, with Gordon Strachan firing in the first of two penalties before Speed applied the gloss. The mop-haired midfielder saved the best until last, blasting in a 30-yard thunderbolt to seal a vintage away-day. United: Lukic, McClelland, Dorigo, Batty, Fairclough (Sterland), Whyte, Strachan, Rod Wallace, Chapman, McAllister (Hodge), Speed.
Gary Speed: Key games for Leeds United PART 3
Leeds United 1 Bradford City 1, Division 2, Elland Road, Sunday, April 8, 1990
Controversy reigned following a fractious end to the derby at Elland Road, with United spitting feathers after they were denied three precious promotion points. The day may have proved a red-letter one for Speed, who crowned a lively display with his first senior goal for the Whites, but the main talking point was the performance of the man in the middle. United were incensed with referee John Martin after relegation-haunted City gained 20 yards following an offside decision which led to a late penalty equaliser, hammered home by Brian Tinnion after Peter Haddock’s challenge on Kevin Megson in the box. But that incident would have been inconsequential if the hosts hadn’t fluffed several chances. They only converted one and it was a case of third time lucky for Speed, who had earlier seen an effort blocked by Mark Leonard and brought out a quality save from impressive Bantams keeper Paul Tomlinson. A 20-year-old Speed finally gave United the lead on 53 minutes after Hendrie back-heeled Vinnie Jones’ pass invitingly into his path and he fired home a low shot only for City to stun the hosts. United: Day, Sterland, Beglin, Jones, Fairclough, Haddock, Strachan, Batty, Chapman, Hendrie (Davison), Speed.
Gary Speed: Key games for Leeds United PART 4
Everton 2 Leeds United 3, Division One, Goodison Park, Saturday, August 25, 1990
A match synonymous for a bizarre half-time sit in on the pitch by a disgruntled Neville Southall saw United stand up and be counted in their first game back in the big time. It proved an auspicious occasion for the Whites, roared on by 4,500 fans, and for boyhood Evertonian Speed, who fired his maiden top-flight goal at Goodison of all places. Southall, who had tipped compatriot Speed for international stardom with Wales that week, hardly needed any reminding about the Mancot-born midfielder’s wares. But he got it on 41 minutes when United went 2-0 up, although Speed’s strike had a touch of farce about it. Southall collided with defender Martin Keown following a long punt from John Lukic, with the ball running free and enabling Speed to slot home. The visitors paraded summer recruits who cost a combined £2.5m in Lukic, Gary McAllister and Chris Whyte and showed they meant business by taking the lead on six minutes. A long throw from David Batty deceived several players, with the unchecked Chris Fairclough nipping in to head home. The Blues spurned a glorious lifeline on 25 minutes when they fired a penalty wide after Fairclough was penalised for handball, and Speed compounded the pain shortly before the interval. Worse was to come for Southall as United made it 3-0 on the hour with Imre Varadi netting from close-range after Southall had blocked Speed’s initial effort before Pat Nevin and John Ebbrell pulled goals back to set up a frenzied finale, with £1m Lukic making a string of impressive saves. United: Lukic, Sterland, G Snodin, Batty, Fairclough, Whyte, Strachan, Varadi (Kamara), Chapman, McAllister, Speed (Haddock).
Gary Speed: Key games for Leeds United PART 5
Leeds United 0 Oldham Athletic 0, Division Two, Elland Road, Saturday, May 6, 1989
This Roses battle may have been non-descript end-of-season fare, but it was notable for one reason – the debut of a young Welshman by the name of Speed. Having struck goals in 12 successive matches for United’s juniors and netted a midweek brace in the 3-3 Central League draw at Manchester United, the fresh-faced 18-year-old was handed his first-team bow by boss Howard Wilkinson, who had one eye on his line-up for the following campaign. Speaking after the game, Wilkinson labelled it as “not the most scintillating 90 minutes” and never was a truer word spoken as United’s re-jigged and cobbled together line-up, with eight players unavailable, turned in a mediocre display against Joe Royle’s draw specialists who included Tommy Wright, Denis Irwin and veteran Asa Hartford in their line-up. Speed was handed the brief in left midfield with John Sheridan sidelined along with a host of others, including top-scorer Bobby Davison. And while his debut was largely inauspicious, in an encounter devoid of chances, he did come close with a late opportunity, forcing a fine one-handed save from Latics keeper Andy Rhodes with a low angled shot. Nevertheless, the teenager, who signed pro forms with United on June 6, 1988, could reflect on a noteworthy personal milestone – the first of many in a golden playing career spanning the best part of two decades. For the record, the game’s best chance arrived in the 21st minute when Ian Baird, who played with a broken toe, prodded wide from six yards for United, who ended the season in 10th spot. United: Day, Haddock, Whitlow (Mumby), Rennie (Stiles), Blake, Fairclough, Strachan, Batty, Baird, Speed, Hilaire.
Gary Speed: Key games for Leeds United FINAL PART
Leeds United 4 Sheffield United 0, Divison Two, Elland Road, Monday, April 16, 1990
Full Speed Ahead was the joyous YEP headline following United’s seismic victory over their White Rose promotion rivals, with the hosts happy bunnies following an Easter Monday to savour in front of a bumper crowd of 32,727. United recorded their biggest victory of a thrilling campaign and the emphatic triumph over Dave Bassett’s Blades was made all the sweeter after a worrying haul heading into the game of two points taken from the previous 12 available. A turbo-charged finish which saw United plunder three goals in the last 16 minutes got their promotion bandwagon back on track, with Speed providing the coup de grace by way of a memorable fourth in front of a packed Kop. Legions of supporters have been recalling that memorable moment in their tributes to the Welshman this week, with the legendary line uttered by United’s club commentator John Boyd when Speed hared away to fire home an angled strike – “Go on Gary Speed, get one yourself, son” – remembered with fondness. That strike crowned a superlative month for Speed, whose star was shining in a big way, so much so that he went on to receive the Barclay’s Young Eagle Of The Month award for April after netting in back-to-back home derbies against Bradford and the Blades and in the away draw at Brighton. The Whites drew first blood on 18 minutes when the irrepressible Gordon Strachan settled the nerves, firing in after Paul Stancliffe blocked Chris Kamara’s shot almost on the line. But the game remained in the balance until the 76th minute when Leeds got a two-goal cushion, and it owed much to the fastidious homework of boss Howard Wilkinson. Renowned for his meticulous planning, Wilkinson had ordered his strikers to pressurise Blades keeper Simon Tracey at every opportunity. And it worked a treat when Tracey, concerned after another of his attempted kick-outs was charged down by Chapman, elected to throw the ball. From that, Leeds quickly regained possession and Speed’s cross resulted in Chapman firing his 11th goal in 18 outings following his £400,000 move from Nottingham Forest. It knocked the stuffing out of the Blades, with United going 3-0 up on 82 minutes when a flustered Tracey kicked the ball unwittingly against Bobby Davison, who was promptly brought down with Strachan coolly converting from the spot. Speed provided the icing when a gutsy challenge from Kamara sent the midfielder clear and after a 70-yard dash, he sweetly struck the ball low past Tracey – an iconic moment in a vintage season. United: Day, Sterland, Beglin, Jones, Fairclough, McClelland, Strachan, Kamara, Chapman, Davison (Shutt), Speed.
A Proper Footballer: by Chris Tait on Friday 2nd December 2011
I always played number eleven at school, left wing, or outside left as it was, when 3-5-2 was the done thing, before the Dutch came along with their Total Football and
bright orange Adidas shirts and all that hair. Those were the days of right halves and inside forwards and keepers picking the ball up from a back pass, which just
looks bizarre now when you see it on old clips. No real pace but I fancied myself as Eddie Gray so I learnt a few tricks from him, as well as the obligatory Cruyff
turn, which was de rigueur between ’73 and ’75, particularly at Chester Place Juniors (yellow shirts, blue trim, blue shorts and socks and don’t forget your Leeds
United sock number pennants – ask your dad). Number 11s were always tricky and jinky in that era, or a bit of a fanny, depending on your viewpoint, and there were loads of great ones: Gray of course, Clive Woods at Ipswich, George Best, for the most part, not forgetting that promising lad from Bensham. For my home town club, there was Terry Hibbitt, who’d ironically had to depart Leeds when Eddie Gray began to establish himself in Revie’s affections. Then of course came Scott Sellars (hallelujah) and Gary Speed, again both Elland Road alumni, which suggests something but don’t ask me what.
Gary Speed was a different kind of player to the other Sweet Left Footers he followed, both in West Yorkshire and on Tyneside. More central midfield box-to-boxer
than prancing wide man (no one could accuse him of being ‘a bit of a fanny’), he was undoubtedly ‘a proper footballer’, the archetypal modern day player – strong,
athletic, great in the air, driven, committed, honest, a tireless worker and, as has been highlighted elsewhere, a remarkably handsome chap to boot. Like Keegan before him, but so unlike many current overpaid stars throughout the domestic game, Gary knew that talent was nothing without hard work, application and honest endeavour, which, together with his crisp passing, resolute tackling and keen eye for goal, will be my abiding memory of a life interrupted. Fittingly enough, Eddie Gray was Leeds manager when Speed first walked through the door with his father to sign on as a youth team player in 1984. This quote from my boyhood hero perfectly sums up the character and integrity of a player, manager and, above all, a good, decent bloke who will be sadly missed - “It’s quite funny, because I recall saying to him, ‘Try to remember, son, it’s not just about ability. If you want to make it, you are going to have to apply yourself and work really hard. It’s going to need a lot of dedication. Imagine saying that to Gary Speed”.
May his passing away in very sad circumstances bring to the forefront to the current modern footballer what the day to day fans regard as what makes a real pro. and the reasons as to why he is so highly regarded. RIP Gary.
You can sum up how good a player Gary was by the fact on the rare occasions he made a couple of errors there used to be audible gasps and murmers from the crowd. As it
sats a proper footballer and from my one experience meeting him a proper bloke. I once went to St James on behalf of the work charity commitee to get a ball signed to
raffle. It was a signing session where me and others went along a line of players to get out stuff signed. No doubt boring for the player many of whom talked amongst
themselves as they signed the shirts etc. Being polite I thanked each one as they signed a few responed however two Shay Given and yes Gary Speed made eye contact and
smiled and nodded their thanks back RIP Gary
GARY ANDREW SPEED (MBE).
DIED: NOVEMBER 27th.2011 at his home in HUNTINGTON, CHESHIRE (Aged only 42).
DOB: 8th SEPTEMBER 1969, MANCOT, FLINTSHIRE, WALES.
NUFC: 1ST. TEAM APPS: PREMIER: 206 (+ 3 SUB), 29 GOALS. FA CUP: 22, 5 GOALS.
LEAGUE CUP: 9 (+ 6 SUB), 1 GOAL. EUROPE: 38, 5 GOALS. TOTAL: 275 (+ 9 SUB), 40 GOALS.
HAWARDEN GRAMMAR SCHOOL (SCHOOLS).
ASTON PARK RANGERS (JUNIORS).
BLUE STAR (MANCHESTER CITY NURSERY TEAM)
LEEDS UNITED (YOUTH TRAINEE: APR.1986, PRO- JUN.13th.1988 To JUL.1996). EVERTON (TRANSFER FEE- £3. 5 MILLION: JUL.1996 To FEB.1998). NUFC (TRANSFER FEE- £5. 5 MILLION- FEB.6TH 1998 To JUL.2004).BOLTON WANDERERS (TRANSFER FEE- £750, 000: JUL 21ST 2004 (INCLUDING- PLAYER/COACH MAY 1st. To OCT.2007) To JAN.1st.2008).
SHEFFIELD UNITED (TRANSFER FEE- £250, 000: PLAYER/COACH- JAN.1st.2008 (INITALLY ON LOAN) To AUG.2010 RETIRED).
SHEFFIELD UNITED (MANAGER: AUG.17th. 2010 To DEC.14TH 2010).
WALES NATIONAL TEAM (MANAGER: DEC.14TH 2010 To NOV.27th.2011
MATCHES IN ROLE 10:- W5, D0, L5).
MEMBER OF THE ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE (MBE): 2010.
WALES: FULL INTERNATIONAL CAPS: 85, 7 GOALS.
WALES: UNDER 21’s APPEARANCES: 3, 0 GOALS.
WALES: YOUTH APPEARANCES
ENGLISH LEAGUE DIVISION 1 WINNER- 1991-92 (LEEDS UNITED).
ENGLISH LEAGUE DIVISION II WINNER- 1989-90 (LEEDS UNITED)
FA. CUP FINAL- RUNNER UP: 16TH MAY 1998 (0-2 v ARSENAL) (NUFC).
FA. CUP FINAL- RUNNER UP MAY 1999 (0-2 MAN. UTD) (NUFC).
ENGLISH LEAGUE CUP FINAL- RUNNER UP 1996 (LEEDS UNITED)
FA. CHARITY SHIELD WINNER 1992 (LEEDS UNITED)
UEFA INTERTOTO CUP FINAL- RUNNER UP 2001 (NUFC).
FLINTSHIRE SCHOOLS APPEARANCES.
EVERTON PLAYER OF THE YEAR- 1996-97 SEASON.
GARY SPEED TRIBUTE ‘MEMORIAL MATCH’: 4TH JAN 2012 WALES v COSTA RICA, Lost 0:1.
Welshman, Gary Speed joined Manchester City’s nursery side, Blue Star as a youngster; before he joined the Leeds United academy in April 1986, becoming a pro. 2 years later in the summer he left school. No small obituary such as this, can do justice to Gary’s football career, but I will attempt to outline the highlights. Gary was an incon at Leeds United making 248 league appearances, scoring 39 goals. Gary assisted Leeds to both the Division I in 1990 & then the English League title in 1992. Before he moved on to Everton, Gary helped the side reach the final of the League Cup in 1996. In July of that sign Everton signed him for £3.5 Million. Ironically his debut on August 17th was against Newcastle & he scored. They finished the season with Gary Speed & Duncan Ferguson as their top goal scorers with 11 goals & was their player of the year. Newcastle signed him on February 6th 1998 for £5.5 million & his time with Newcastle from the Dalglish era through to being one of Bobby Robson’s ‘Blue Chip’ players saw him make 2 FA. Cup Final & 1 Semi Final appearance at Wembley for Newcastle, which all sadly ended in defeat. He would clock up a total of 275 (+9 sub) senior appearances for Newcastle, scoring 40 goals. A man often did not show his emotions, he was said to be upset when Newcastle put him on the transfer list & accepted a very modest £750 000 for him. My own top memory of ‘Speedo’ is his goal that got us into the semi Final of the UEFA Cup against PSV (An unforgettable header). At his next club Bolton Wanderers from 2004, he went on to be player manager in his final season there & then joined Sheffield United in the same capacity in January 2008. He hung up his boots in 2010 aged 41, carrying on as Sheffield United’s manager. It was in that year he was honoured with an MBE. His skill in the role of manager was quickly spotted & only a few months later he was appointed as the Wales National Team manager. He would remain in this role until his tragic & untimely death in November 2011. His death rocked the world of football & instantly thousands of fans expressed their grief at the grounds of Leeds, Everton & Newcastle. Gary held the previous holder of the record for the most Premiership appearances. He was capped 85 times for Wales, scoring 7 goals & was the manager of the what had become a much improved National side under his guidance. His death shocked the sporting world & St. James Park & other clubs he had played for became memorials to him overnight. In January 2012, the Welsh national team staged a tribute match in his memory. Gary Speed’s funeral was held in the village Hawarden on December 9th.2011 & he was cremated in nearby Pentre Bychan in Wrexham. Two years later ex goalkeeper Steve Harper had a testimonial at St. James Park, & both Gary’s sons featured late in the game giving us a poignant reminder of is loss.