Gary Speed: Football and rugby tribute to Wales manager

McAllister and Strachan lead Speed tribute

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Thousands of football fans and rugby supporters have united to remember Wales manager Gary Speed.

A minute's applause has been observed at every Premier League fixture and at the Wales-Australia rugby game in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

Speed, 42, was found dead at his home in Cheshire on Sunday.

His widow, Louise, made an emotional return to Leeds United, where Speed started his professional football career.

Start Quote

It's bound to be a very emotional afternoon for everyone”

End Quote Simon Grayson Leeds United manager

At Mrs Speed's request, Newcastle United have postponed plans to mark the former player's long connection with the club, where he made 285 appearances.

Newcastle had planned to lead the 52,000 crowd at St James' Park in the Welsh hymn Bread of Heaven while supporters in the east stand held up cards depicting the number 11, Speed's shirt number.

While Newcastle still took part in this Saturday's minute of applause before their game against Chelsea, they will pay a full tribute to Speed on 17 December, when they play Welsh team Swansea City.

Gary Speed Gary Speed played for a number of Premier League clubs during a long career

Newcastle fans sang his name and some wore T-shirts and held up posters with "RIP Gary" on them as well as Welsh flags.

Newcastle assistant manager John Carver was very upset during the tributes and was comforted by the fourth official.

At Elland Road, Leeds United manager Simon Grayson said he had prepared his team for a poignant and emotional afternoon as they hosted Millwall.

Gary McAllister, David Batty and Gordon Strachan, who played alongside Speed when Leeds won the First Division in 1992, laid wreaths - as did Millwall manager Kenny Jackett - and led a minute's applause.

Grayson told the Leeds website: "This is the place where Gary started his career, and he played many games here, not just in senior football, but for the reserves and the juniors as well.

'Iconic player'

"There's a lot of things going off on the day and it's bound to be a very emotional afternoon for everyone."

A minute's applause was also held at Sheffield United's ground Bramall Lane before the FA Cup game against Torquay United, and former Welsh international Robert Page laid wreaths at pitchside.

Newcastle United players join a minute's applause before the match against Chelsea Newcastle United players join a minute's applause for Gary Speed before their match against Chelsea

Speed managed Sheffield United before he took the Wales job, and large images of him have also been erected at the ground's car park, where they will remain for the rest of the season.

"Gary Speed was a wonderful ambassador for the game of football and will be remembered as an iconic player of the Premier League era," the league said in a statement.

"This will give clubs and fans the opportunity to show their appreciation for Gary's career and let his friends and family know that football's thoughts are with them at this difficult time."

Fans gather as floral tributes are left to Gary Speed at the foot of the Billy Bremner statue outside Leeds United's Elland Road Fans gather as floral tributes are left at the Billy Bremner statue outside Leeds United's ground

Before the Wales-Australia game the Welsh Rugby Union said: "It is important for rugby to pay its respects to Gary Speed and the international on Saturday, which is the first for a Welsh team since his passing, is a fitting opportunity for that tribute to be paid."

Speed's death was also marked during the draw for the Uefa Euro 2012 tournament on Friday.

An image of the Wales manager was shown on a big screen at the auditorium in Kiev.

Uefa's Gianni Infantino said Speed was "one of the most popular characters of the game".

Former Wales international Robbie Savage will dedicate his dance on BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing show to his old team-mate.

He told BBC Radio 1's Vernon Kay: "My last impression of Gary was here at Strictly. It was four weeks ago and I did my jive and he was in the front row.

"That was the last time I saw him. I'm just going to go out there and perform for him."

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