Footballing world pays tribute to Gary Speed


Former player Iwan Roberts, ex-Wales manager Bobby Gould and Swansea City fans were shocked by the news.

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Figures from across the world of football have paid tribute to Wales national team manager Gary Speed after he was found dead at his Chester home.

Cheshire Police found him dead at 0708 GMT at his home in Huntington. Sources said the 42-year-old was found hanged.

Alan Shearer said he would "miss him dreadfully" and Ryan Giggs said he was "one of the nicest men in football".

Welsh and English politicians also paid tribute, with First Minister Carwyn Jones saying he was "deeply saddened".

Start Quote

Gary was a magnificent person... he lit up every room he walked into”

End Quote Alan Shearer Former Newcastle teammate

Within minutes of the news of his death emerging, colleagues and public figures began to pay tribute to Speed.

Former Wales teammate Giggs 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.

"It goes without saying my thoughts are with his family at this tremendously sad time."

Another of Speed's 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

Gary Speed playing for Wales, watched by Robbie Savage (picture: Allspot/Getty) Speed made a record 85 appearances for his country

"He come to watch strictly [Strictly Come Dancing] 3/4 weeks ago I high fived him in the front row he loved the show ,he loved life he loved his family ! Devastated".

Alan Shearer, who played alongside Speed at Newcastle for six years between 1998 and 2004, said: "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."

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish released Welsh international striker Craig Bellamy from his squad for Sunday's match against Manchester City, saying Bellamy "was very, very close to Gary".

Cheshire Police were informed of a sudden death early on Sunday morning and found Speed dead at the property.

The force said Speed's next-of-kin confirmed his identity and that his family wanted to be "left in peace to grieve at this difficult time".

A statement added there were no suspicious circumstances and the death is now being dealt with by a coroner.

Speed, born in Mancot, Flintshire, had appeared on BBC1's Football Focus show on Saturday afternoon, just hours before his death.

Robbie Savage reflects on his memories of friend and former team-mate, Gary Speed

He began his playing career at Leeds United after coming through the trainee ranks, and was part of the side that won the last Football League title in 1992, before the introduction of the Premier League.

A Leeds spokesman said the club was "stunned and saddened" by the news.

He left Leeds in 1996 after 312 appearances to join Everton - whom he went on to captain - in a £3.5m move

Newcastle followed, in a £5.5m switch in 1998. During his six years with the Magpies, he suffered two FA Cup final defeats, but enjoyed a taste of Champions League football.

He then spent four years with Bolton Wanderers after agreeing a £750,000 move and finished his playing career at Sheffield United, retiring at the end of the 2009-2010 season.

Speed, who was the first player to reach 500 Premier League appearances, also won 85 caps for his country - a record for an outfield player.

He made his international debut as a 20-year-old in the 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica in May 1990 and his final appearance for Wales was in a 3-2 World Cup qualifying defeat against Poland in October 2004. He captained his country 44 times and scored seven goals.

He took over the Wales job in December 2010, despite having just four months' managerial experience, but the team had started to make impressive progress under his stewardship.

A 4-1 friendly win over Norway earlier this month represented a third successive win for Wales, and Speed's fifth in 10 games as manager.

At the time, he said: "We've progressed further than I'd have thought in this space of time but we've still got a lot of work to do."

In the 2010 Birthday Honours list, Speed was awarded the MBE. He leaves a wife and two children.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said he was deeply saddened, adding: "This is devastating news and our thoughts are with his family at what must be a very difficult time for them."

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said: "This is a sad day for football and for everyone in Wales. Gary Speed served club and country as a player and manager with great distinction."

Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Conservative leader, said he and millions of others "will always remember him as a legend in the game of football".

Welsh Liberal Democrats leader, Kirsty Williams, described the death as a "tragedy for the Speed family and a tragedy for Welsh football."

Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said the "whole nation is in shock."

"He will never be forgotten," he added.

Other politicians paid their respects, with a Downing Street spokesman saying: "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."

Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted: "Tragic and shocking news about Gary Speed. Fantastic servant of Leeds. Mourned by football. Deepest condolences to his family."

A spokesman for BBC Sport said: "The news of Gary's death is a huge shock. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his friends and family at this incredibly sad time."

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."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    The death by suicide is always sad as you feel that having talked to the person it could have been avoided but that person knows there is no other route. Suicide bombers are just deluded by religion.

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    As a proud Welshman and a Leeds United fan devestated isn't a strong enough word for how I feel.

    Being only 7yrs younger than Speed I grew up watching him play football for both Wales and Leeds and I even got the honour of meeting him in our Champiosnhip winning year.

    RIP a ture Wales and Leeds United legend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Why oh why oh why?

    Football and Wales has lost a great guy for reasons we don't know.

    We must let his family and friends grieve in private, and not speculate on why or how he died.

    This is even more relevant bearing in mind the revelations that have surfaced in Leverson enquiry over the last seven days.


  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    What is happening to sport? Within the past week a German referee attempted suicide, and, a few week ago, cricket has lost a great former player and top commentator.
    If money is the issue, then something has to be done to curb the excesses and the pressure to succeed it brings.

    My condolences to his family at what is going to be an awful time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Not a football fan in the slightest. But whenever I heard Gary Speed on the television or radio his passion, wit and intelligence transcended the sport. Few have this ability to interest those who aren't interested in a particular sport or activity but Gary Speed had this ability by the tonne.

    Such sad, sad news. My thoughts to all who knew and loved him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    This just shows how someone can be suffering from severe depression whilst still putting on a 'brave' face. I send my sincere condolences for the family and fans of Gary Speed.

    We need a campaign raising the awareness of depression in men, especially young men. The numbers are truly horrifying and yet its rarely ever talked about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Very sad. No-one apart form Gary will understand his reasons behind what he did but he always struck me as a genuinely nice bloke with a bright future in front of him. It's a shame, a real shame. Only 42. A sad, sad loss. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    No 52: John Allen - we all feel the pain of the death of soldiers. A lot of people are genuinely saddened by this news, as we are by every name of every soldier who has died, that we hear sadly too often in news from Afghanistan and elsewhere. Please, your remarks are out of order and pathetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    So very shocked and saddened to hear the news about Gary. A true football talent and gentleman of the game. deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    There really are some AWFUL comments on here regarding Mr Speeds' death, albeit at his own hands. Who can say what he was feeling, clearly a catastrophic turn of events led to this tragic news? If you cannot offer sympathy, support or compassion for a fellow human being, seek your sick audience somewhere else. RIP Gary. Legend of North East football & many other cities around this country. Peace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Absolutely shocked at the sad news about Gary. He always impressed me as a great team player wherever he played. My heart goes out to his family and friends. RIP Gary

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    What a waste.A proper GENTLEMAN in the sport of football very rare in these days R.I.P

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    I can't make sense of this, my good friend did the same 7 months ago, why can't we see the signs and prevent these tragedies?

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Such sad news, Gary you were amazing came and saw you play at newcastle many times, you never dissapointed.Sincere condolences to your family..RIP Gary you were the best....

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I have heard of the deaths of many people this year. Though all of them were very sad (of course)...not one has struck me quite the same way as this has. R.I.P Gary and the most heartfelt condolences to your family and friends :(.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I feel for his family. My uncle took his own life at a similar age to Gary Speed so I have some miniscule inkling of the effect on those left behind - particularly children. It's impossible to make sense of. I feel very much for the family & hope they are able to gather strength in the coming weeks & months.


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