Gary Speed: 'Devastation' over Wales manager's death

  • 28 November 2011
  • From the section Wales
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Gary Speed and wife Louise
Image caption Gary Speed leaves a wife, Louise, and two children

Family, friends and the football world are trying to come to terms with the death of Wales manager Gary Speed.

Tributes continue to pour in after the 42-year-old was found dead at his home in Chester on Sunday morning. It is understood he was found hanged.

Former team-mate John Hartson said the death had left him "devastated".

Fans paid tribute at Sunday's Swansea-Aston Villa game when a minute's silence turned into applause.

Figures across the world of football have expressed their shock at the death of Speed, who leaves a wife and two children.

Former Wales striker Hartson had been due to commentate for the BBC at Swansea's Liberty Stadium but pulled out because he was so upset.

He wrote on Twitter that Speed's death had left him totally devastated: "A son, father and a husband. I'll miss you Speedo. Heartbroken," he wrote.

Welsh international Craig Bellamy was withdrawn from the Liverpool squad for Sunday's game against Manchester City by his manager Kenny Dalglish, who felt he was too upset to play.

Media captionBobby Gould was the first to give Gary Speed the captain's armband for his country

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

Manchester United and England striker Michael Owen, who went to the same school in Flintshire, said Speed was a rare player who was respected by all supporters.

"Everyone knew that Gary Speed was a gentleman," he said.

"His footballing ability was without question but I would like to focus on him as a person.

"He lived in my area only 10 or 15 miles away. The whole mood of Cheshire when the news broke was utter shock and disbelief. Devastated."

Speed enjoyed a long and distinguished playing career which included periods with Everton, Newcastle, Bolton, Sheffield United and Leeds, where he won the First Division title in 1992, the year before it became the Premier League.

He was also Wales' most capped outfield player, winning 85 international caps, and managed Sheffield United before becoming Wales boss in December 2010.

After a difficult start, Wales' 4-1 friendly win over Norway on 12 November was his side's third successive win.

'Pinnacle of his career'

Laura McAllister, chair of Sport Wales and a former Wales women's international, said: "I think he was just a phenomenal advert and a phenomenal model really for professionals now.

Image caption Gary Speed had said he was satisfied with his first 10 games in charge of Wales

"He had moulded a team and that's his legacy - he moulded a team in his own image.

"He would say they are more talented than him but they were players that wanted to put on the red shirt and that wanted to represent their country and that's a fantastic tribute to his managerial skills."

Former Wales manager Bobby Gould said Speed had so much left to offer and, as manager of his country, was at the "pinnacle of his career".

"I think it's shock really now. I've been awake since half past five and you chew over things in your mind and you get up and think 'what will today bring?' " he said.

"I wouldn't like to experience another day like yesterday."

Manchester United and Wales star Ryan Giggs said Speed, who was awarded the MBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours for his services to the game, was "one of the nicest men in football".

Cheshire Police said on Sunday that Speed's body was discovered at his home in Huntington, on the outskirts of Chester.

Officers said there were no suspicious circumstances.

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