Monday, November 28, 2011

Gary Andrew Speed, MBE - 1969 - 2011

It is always so very sad to write about the death of someone, particularly when it is a relative or friend, but in this instance although I have no personal association with Gary Speed, other than having watched him play from the stands, I personally wanted to pay my respects to a true gentleman and a model professional.
It really does put the game of football into perspective........everything else pales into insignificance when the reality of such a tragedy hits home.

Gary Speed with his wife Louise

The news of his death has been broadcast by the media continuously over the last 24 hours, and it is hard to add to all the touching, heartfelt sentiments of those people who were closest to him, his family, his friends and his fellow professionals in particular.

Gary was born at Mancot, in Flintshire on the 8th September 1969.
He attended Hawarden High School as a child. and supported Everton FC as a youngster.
Gary began his playing career with Leeds United as a trainee, signing a professional contract on the 13th June 1988 and making his first-team debut at the age of 19. His playing career spanned 22 years and he won 85 caps for Wales between 1990 and 2004, before he took on the mantle of Wales national team manager on the 14th December 2010.

At midday on Saturday the Wales manager Gary Speed was live on the BBC's Football Focus programme discussing his future plans for the side. On Sunday morning the 42-year-old was found hanged at his home in Cheshire having 'apparently committed suicide.'

Speed's death came a day after the former Liverpool footballer Stan Collymore spoke candidly about his battle with depression. Speculation surrounding Gary's death has included the possibility that perhaps he himself was suffering this horrendous mental illness.
It has also been 'alleged' that a national newspaper was going to release an article today regarding a very private matter relating to his personal life, but I must reiterate this is purely 'rumour' and nothing more. There is no substance whatsoever to this allegation.

Tributes for Gary have been pouring in since his death. Here are just a few of them:

BBC Sport's Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer, who played alongside Speed at Newcastle, told BBC Sport: "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."

Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs, who played alongside Speed with Wales for 13 years, said he was "totally devastated."
"Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate and friend."

Former Wales team-mate Dean Saunders said: "I just can't believe it. I spoke to him last week. We roomed together all of our careers with Wales. I just can't get my head around it. It's incredible. He's so level-headed. You never saw him down in the dumps. He was just a really nice fella. I'm just thinking about his wife and his lads."

Another former Wales teammate, Robbie Savage, tweeted: "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"

A statement from the Welsh Rugby Union said: "Wales has lost a great sportsman, a true gentleman and a man who was working extremely hard and succeeding to deliver a bright future for Welsh football."

Sincere and heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Louise and sons Tommy and Eddie.

It goes without saying that the sport of football will truly miss Gary, but without a shadow of doubt his memory will live long in the hearts of fans all over the world.

Gary Speed
Career History:

1988: Signs with Leeds and makes his first-team debut aged 19.
1990: He makes his first appearance for the national side on 20th May 1990.
1992: Wins the Football League First Division Championship title with Leeds.
1996: League Cup finalist with Leeds.
1996: Joins Everton for £3.5m.
1998: Joins Newcastle for £5.5m.
1998: FA Cup finalist with Newcastle.
1999: FA Cup finalist with Newcastle.
2004: Joins Bolton for £750,000.
2004: League Cup finalist with Bolton.
2004: Retires from International football.
2006: First player to make 500 Premier League appearances.
2007: Joins Sheffield United on loan.
2008: Joins Sheffield United permanently for £250,000 and moves into coaching.
2010: Retires from playing, appointed Sheffield United manager in August.
2010: Awarded MBE for his services to football.
2010: Confirmed as the new Welsh national team manager on the 14th December 2010
2011: Last game as manager of Wales, 12th November 2011, a 4–1 win against Norway.

Gary Speed, Rest in Peace.

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