Gary Speed: Private funeral for family and friends

Gary Speed Gary Speed managed Wales for just under a year and had turned around their fortunes

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The funeral of Wales football manager Gary Speed will take place later this week, it has been announced.

Speed, 42, was found hanged at his home in Cheshire nine days ago.

The League Managers' Association (LMA) said it will be a private funeral with only family and close friends invited, but a public memorial service will be held soon.

His widow Louise said through the LMA that she and her family expressed "deep appreciation" for the tributes to him.

Football fans and rugby supporters united at the weekend to remember Speed, with a minute's applause at every Premier League fixture and at the Wales-Australia rugby game in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

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. They will pay a full tribute to Speed on 17 December, when they play Welsh rivals Swansea City.

"At this time, Louise Speed and her family wish to express their deep appreciation for the very generous and clearly heartfelt tributes paid to Gary and his memory by the public and all forms of the media," said an LMA statement.

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Mrs Speed is also acutely aware how Gary touched the lives of so many people ”

End Quote LMA statement

"Mrs Speed is especially grateful for the sympathetic way that the media has respected the family's privacy in these extremely distressing circumstances.

"She is also acutely aware how Gary touched the lives of so many people and that each of them would wish to thank him for the joy he brought to them.

"Accordingly, a memorial service to celebrate Gary's life will take place soon and hopefully this will allow as many people to attend as wish to be there to pay their final respects and tributes to Gary."

'Extremely touched'

Any donations in memory of Gary Speed should be sent either to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation or the John Hartson Foundation.

Lady Elsie Robson said she was "extremely touched" by Mrs Speed's request for donations to the foundation which she set up with her late husband in 2008.

She said: "To be thinking about other people like that at such a difficult time is incredible and I understand Louise believes it's what Gary would have wanted."

Speed supported the former England manager's cancer research charity and raised more than £7,500 for it last year by running the London Marathon.

Leeds United fan with Speed shirt Leeds United fans left tributes to Speed at their Elland Road ground

Sir Bobby, who managed Speed at Newcastle United, fought cancer five times over 17 years.

Speed, born in Mancot, Flintshire, took over the Wales job in December 2010. Last month he said the side's rapid improvement had exceeded all expectations.

He was given the top job in Welsh football despite only having four months managerial experience.

Speed 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.

He was handed his Wales debut as a 20-year-old in the 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica in May 1990.

He left Leeds in 1996 after 312 appearances to join Everton - who he went on to captain - in a £3.5m move, before playing for Newcastle and Bolton.

He retired from international duty in 2004, having scored seven goals and captaining his country 44 times. His tally of 85 caps is a record for an outfield player.

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