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Gary Speed leaves a huge hole in football

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Dan Walker | 18:00 UK time, Sunday, 27 November 2011

I have no idea where to start this blog, what to say in the middle and how to finish it. This will probably be a stream of consciousness.

I spent four hours with Gary Speed on Saturday. He was our guest on Football Focus and was in great form. I've met and interviewed him on many occasions. I always found him to be kind, funny, intelligent and insightful.

On Saturday he was cracking jokes with Gary McAllister, his midfield partner from the title-winning Leeds side of 1991-92.

Off-air we talked about playing golf, how good his boys were at football and his dreams of taking Wales to the World Cup in 2014.

He was always interested in what you were up to. He would say: "How are you finding Sheffield, Dan? Are you and the kids settling in OK?" That was part of his charm - he cared.

Speed took over the Wales manager's job in December 2010

One of the production team went to the same school as Gary in North Wales and they were talking about the day the Queen turned up. A picture, taken of Gary with fellow alumni Michael Owen and Her Majesty, is still proudly shown in reception.

Gary was genuinely loved in the game. In the last few hours you will have heard more qualified accounts and memories from fellow managers, players, friends and fans talking of how much he meant to them and what he did for their club. There have been tributes and flowers left across the country and tears shed throughout the football family.

After Focus we recorded a 10-minute piece with Gary talking about Wales qualifying campaign for the next World Cup. He spoke with passion about the fixtures and desire to see success. His hope was that the upturn in form would see his team playing in front of full stadia again. He joked about Team GB and how Scotland would be an easy game, McAllister giggled.

Those words and hopes for the future seem so poignant now. There was certainly no hint of any troubles or any indication of what was going to happen a few hours later.

"I'm just popping upstairs to see Al [Shearer], Dan. I'll see you up there in a mo," he said after the show.

I joined Gary in the Match of the Day production office a few minutes later where he was chatting with Shearer, Mark Lawrenson and McAllister.

They were having a laugh and watching the Stoke v Blackburn game. Alan and Gary were organising when they were going to see each other next before Shearer left to go to watch Manchester United v Newcastle at Old Trafford. They all ribbed Alan for his comedy hat that later featured on MOTD.

I was going home to Sheffield so I said my goodbyes. Gary gave me a warm handshake and said "thanks for today Dan".

"We might even have you on again soon," I joked.

When I got the news on Sunday morning I was stunned. I still can't get my head around it.

This is not the time to go into the reasons behind it all. I know people are talking about depression and other issues but we will have to wait to know the whole - probably very sad - truth.

This is the time to say that all our thoughts and prayers are with his family. This is the time to say I found him to be a top bloke and really enjoyed his company.

He leaves a huge hole in football. He seemed to have everything in front of him - two boys he loved, physical fitness and, at just 42, a promising future as manager of Wales. But Gary Speed is gone and I miss him.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Devastated. RIP Gary. Loads of great memories of the times i've seen you playing for Wales. Great player.

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    RIP Gary Speed. Football legend.

  • Comment number 4.

    Wonderfully honest, natural account of such a sad event.

    The best blog I have read on the BBC.

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    so sad to hear about gary speed can't belive it R.I.P

  • Comment number 7.

    A well written and somehow gentle tribute to the man. Well done, Dan; must've been difficult to write considering you were with him just yesterday. I heard you on BBC News earlier and it's clearly stunned everyone.

    I think that if Gary's death teaches us anything it's that everyone needs help sometimes.

    Unspeakably sad day.

  • Comment number 8.

    Devistated. RIP Gary. Another great football talent lost brings back the shocking memories of hearing about Robert Enke.

  • Comment number 9.

    It is always very sad when someone in the public eye who is widely respected and liked dies. For instance, I remember how sad I felt when Sevvy lost his battle earlier this year, but somehow Gary Speed's death is even more shocking. So sudden and out of the blue. Here was a man seemingly enjoying life - fit, healthy, delivering success as a manager - and yet clearly something was somehow amiss. So sad.

  • Comment number 10.

    I have to say I'm still stunned by what's happened, just when Welsh football looked like it was going somewhere, this happens!

    This is by far the best blog I have read on the BBC, just so sad it's on this kind of occasion.

  • Comment number 11.

    Still completely stunned by the news. Unbelievable stuff.

    RIP Gary Speed. Legend.

  • Comment number 12.

    A very nice article that captures how everyone perceived Gary Speed.

    RIP Gary, a fantastic servant for the Toon and a true gentleman. May your demons let you rest and your family find comfort in the memory of your love.

  • Comment number 13.

    I was lucky enough to meet Gary Speed on three separate occasions - I'm simply devastated by this very sad news.
    He was a lovely, friendly, kind man and will be missed so much.

    RIP Gary.

  • Comment number 14.

    A true legend, and role model, not only to football fans, but to his family
    And friends. We say farewell to a Footballing great. Rip Gary Speed.

  • Comment number 15.

    A lovely piece Dan, honest and caring. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Comment number 16.

    As a proud Welshie I am devastated at this news - Well done Dan on your heartfelt blog - RIP Gary Speed

  • Comment number 17.

    Thoughts go out to the Speed family. A truly sad day and a massive loss to those not just in the world of football.

  • Comment number 18.

    Gary Speed will be forever remembered by the football world as an idol who helped to shape football into what it is today. R.I.P.

  • Comment number 19.

    R.I.P from Bray Wanderers FC in Ireland. Gary and his Welsh team trained on our clubs pitch when they were over for the Carling Nations Cup. He was a true gent. R.I.P

  • Comment number 20.

    Great blog Dan. Gary Speed was a great player in his day and a welcome attribute for most teams but what made him stand out was his professionalism and the manner in which he conducted himself which is rare nowadays. A true legend of the game, my thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time. R.I.P Speedo

  • Comment number 21.

    Very sad news. RIP Gary Speed.

  • Comment number 22.

    Please send the Speed family my deepest condolences and tell them that they are in my thoughts and prayers at this time.

  • Comment number 23.

    Fantastic tribute to a well loved and respected man. Absolutely stunned when I heard the news today. May he rest in peace. Thoughts and love are with his family at this very sad time x

  • Comment number 24.

    Great blog. Devistatingly sad news, Great player and what seemed an even better man. Rest in peace Gary

  • Comment number 25.

    Never had the chance to meet the Gary, but from the stories I've heard on twitter and BBC Radio 5 live 606 he was the nicest guy you could ever meet. A model professional and an inspiration to us all. A massive loss, thoughts are with his family and friends.

  • Comment number 26.

    Gary was and always will be my hero. Respected and loved by all. Condolences to his friends and family at this tough time. I've been crying most of the day and I only know him as the Welsh footballer and manager I've supported in my 19 years so I can't begin to imagine what the people that have known him well are going through!
    'Gorffwys Mewn Hedd' Gary 'Speedo' Speed.

  • Comment number 27.

    As a West Ham supporter i would like to say its magnificent how all walks of life and supporters of all clubs across the land and not just the clubs he played for, are offering statements in support of Gary Speed. A true sign of how highly regarded he was as a figure in football and mostly, just how nice a man he really was. A very sad day... RIP Gary..

  • Comment number 28.

    One of the best, and most moving articles I've ever read- well done Dan- must've been hard.
    Gary Speed wasn't even just a top player and a promising manager- along with that, he was also one of the good guys of football as well. Utmost respect for everything he done and the way he conducted himself. Will miss him badly.
    Felt a huge lump in my throat when I heard the news.
    RIP GARY- legend forever.

  • Comment number 29.

    I loved watching Gary play from seeing him at Elland Rd way back at the start of his career. One of my favourite footballers ever. Such a sad, sad day for football. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  • Comment number 30.

    When i heard this today, i didn't move an inch for around 5minutes. When i started watching football all those 7years ago while he played for Bolton, Gary Speed inspired me to become the player I am when i play for my school etc. Many say im an inspirational captain, a great leader, hardworking player, trustworthy player on and off the pitch, but Gary Speed, he tops all of this! There will be no one that can replace a legend like him. RIP Speedo, you will be truly missed amonst us all x

  • Comment number 31.

    Obviously like many I'm left stunned. I'm a Welsh supporter, and in recent months have been really excited about this new youthful era. Such a tragedy.

    Your blog has many parallels to how I recounted the last moments I spent with a school friend before he too took his own life that night. As someone already stated it was a very natural and honest account.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is one of the saddest things I have ever heard. Gary Speed was a team player, a leader, a role model and a Welshman - the perfect combination. I so wanted this news not to be true; a piece of me has been ripped out today. Love and prayers to his family.

  • Comment number 33.

    R.I.P. Gary Speed, such a respectful man and a brilliant role model. You will be sorely missed by us all. My condolences go out to friends and family.

  • Comment number 34.

    Very well written, Dan. Today's news puts life into perspective for many, especially so after watching Football Focus yesterday. A tragic loss. Must be hard for you to comprehend as it is for everyone throughout the footballing community and indeed throughout Britain Very, Very sad.

  • Comment number 35.

    Great piece, Dan; I know from your tweets that this has really shaken you up. I felt sick to the stomach when I saw the news this morning. Gary was a hero to Welsh football...a proper legend. My heart goes out to his family.

    RIP Garry.

  • Comment number 36.

    Watching the guy from afar you could get the sense that he was an inherently decent person, a genuine person who didn't get sucked into the celebrity lifestyle and gave his views out of a spirit of generosity rather than for a pay cheque. A man to be admired and to inspire others, there are few like him around these days. RIP

  • Comment number 37.

    May your neighbours respect you, trouble neglect you, angels protect you and heaven accept you. RIP Gary Speed.

  • Comment number 38.

    Just devestated by the news. Such a sad loss for the game. R.I.P Gary you will be sorley missed. Also I send my sincere condolances out to all of his family at this terrible time.

  • Comment number 39.

    Never before have I felt this way about someone passing that are not my family or friends. Always respected Gary as a man and footballer. Whatever happened he will be greatly missed and his memory will be as captain of his country, leader of a nation and more importantly a real genuine man. RIP Gary Speed.

  • Comment number 40.

    I discovered the news on Twitter and was hoping (sad to say it) a sick hoax. Obviously it was not, I just remembered watching him chirpy on Football Focus and upbeat he is about the Welsh national team in the future yesterday. I couldn't believe it happened and still in shock of such a nice young man who had everything set out in front of him.

    My thoughts are with his wife and two sons. RIP to a Premiership great. So tragic.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm stunned about the news and i broke in tears when i heard it :(, he was a truely great player for all the clubs he played for. A true Bolton Wanderers Legend and my heart goes out to his family because he was a true gentlemen. Will never see another true bolton legend play like him when i watched him play for Bolton Wanderes Fc .. Sad occasion. R.I.P Pal

  • Comment number 42.

    Been gutted alll day since hearing the sad news. Gary Speed a brilliant, honest footballer. RIP Gary and deepest condollances to the Speed family

  • Comment number 43.

    As a Wanderers fan to have the priveledge to watch Gary Speed in a white shirt feel blessed, now empty that such a wonderful man has left us far too soon, hope you've found peace now Speedo,

    Always a Wanderer goodnight god bless

  • Comment number 44.

    So well written Dan; I'm still shocked having just seen him on TV yesterday. Something like this transcends football and sporting rivalry.

    Thoughts are with his family and friends; RIP Gary.

    From a Sheffield Wednesday fan.

  • Comment number 45.

    As a Liverpool supporter i had a lot of respect for Gary Speed and his football ability. He always gave 100% every time he played and after watching him on Football Focus yesterday I am shocked at today's news. All football fans have a high regard for Gary Speed, that is apparent at how fans have reacted today. I am sad for all his football friends but most of all I am very sad for his family. RIP Gary

  • Comment number 46.

    I was both shocked and devastated at learning the tragic news today.

    I followed Gary Speed's playing career through my youth and adulthood, and although not a fan of Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton, Sheffield United; I was huge a fan of his.

    Gary Speed was a true professional that is of the hugest losses for the game at any level. Not only missed by English & Welsh football fans, but society as a whole. The World truly is a poorer place without him, and if I could be half the man he was.

    Love and support to his family at this tragic time.

  • Comment number 47.

    Gary was a great Evertonian who was treated shabbily by the club but who kept his dignity and his silence to protect the club he loved and the reputation of a great man who had lost his way. This death is such a tragic waste and my thoughts are with his family at this terrible time. Gary, rest in peace knowing that Evertonians will always hold you in our hearts.

  • Comment number 48.

    Absolutely devastated. Gary was a major asset to football, both on and off the pitch. But not only that, he was a true gentleman. Much love to his family and friends at this terrible time. RIP Gary x

  • Comment number 49.

    Great player and promising manager. Nice bloke. More importantly a Dad. Rest in peace Gary.

  • Comment number 50.

    Thoughts are with Gary's family and friends who will be in shock at such a tragic loss. As a Bolton fan, I am very proud to have him as part of my team, he was a great role model for the game!
    I hope you can take comfort in the fact that as everyone keeps saying - Gary seemed so happy, he just felt it was his time to go!!

  • Comment number 51.

    Stunned by the news,so difficult to comprehend. Such a terrible loss to football and more importantly to his family and friends. My thoughts are with them. R.I.P Gary Speed YNWA

  • Comment number 52.

    One of the Premier League's most memorable and respectable servants. A massive loss to the game. RIP Gary Speed!

  • Comment number 53.

    One of the very few players / managers that was truly liked by opposition fans as well as those of the teams he played for / managed. That says everything about the man. RIP.

  • Comment number 54.

    Devastating news. Welsh football was lucky to have had such a wonderful ambassador as Gary. Not just a great footballer but a great man as well. Deepest condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.

  • Comment number 55.

    Today is just simply and truly a sad day for football as we have lost a legend of the game. But all our thoughts have to go out to Gary's family and friends at this tragic time. I started following Leeds Utd in 1997 so never saw Gary play for the whites but i saw him many times play against us and every time he did he got an amazing reception from the Leeds fans. I've never once heard a bad word said about the man and he always came accross as a true gentleman who always had time for you. I last saw Gary last season when Leeds were playing at Doncaster Rovers and Gary was sat near to the Leeds fans, at that time manager of Sheffield Utd and was clearly there scouting future opposition. When the Leeds fans noticed him through the first half they never stopped chanting his name for the rest of the time he was there. And thats even when he was manager of a rival team. A true measure of how much he meant to Leeds fans and no doubt what he meant to many others. Again my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Rest In Peace Gary Speed. You will never be forgotten! Marching On Together

  • Comment number 56.

    I very much echo HeyHudson. Given the fact that you spent yesterday with a man that no longer lives amongst us today, it must have been difficult to articulate your feelings but you've done so beautifully. A very, very sad day...

  • Comment number 57.

    A super account in the circumstances for you, Dan.

    Gary Speed was a superb role-model for any young sportsman or woman. The care, understanding and interest that it is apparent he showed for his friends and young footballers is remarkable and makes it all the more sad. Thoughts with his family

  • Comment number 58.

    Along with Rob Lee my favourite ever Newcastle player; a top person, player & potentially manager who will be hugely missed by all

    Am completely numb & devastated by the news

    RIP - I hope you find the peace missing in your life

  • Comment number 59.

    Fitting tribute Dan. Was a complete shock to hear the news today. Was on form on Football Focus & showed why he was admired by everyone in sport, not just football. He made great strides in his little time in charge of Wales, and have no doubt he would have led his country to a major championship. Today we have not only lost a footballing genius, but a respected figure admired by many. Thoughts are with his wife, kids, family and friends in and out of the game. He achieved so much in his 42 years and hope his legacy lives on for years to come. Gone but not forgotten. 'You'll never walk alone'

  • Comment number 60.

    The response speaks for itself...such sad news. A big loss to the world. True legend on and off the pitch. Will be sorley missed. Thoughts are with family. R.I.P Gary "Speedo" xx

  • Comment number 61.

    Beautiful, about a wonderful man, footballer and manager. Like everyone I'm still in shock. I hope Gary is finally at peace. My thoughts and prays to his family during this very horrific time.

    RIP Gary, you were/still one of the greats forever immortalised. May you find peace on the football pitch in the sky.

  • Comment number 62.

    A true football professional and a person who had worldwide respect. Being a welsh fan he never let us down and will forever be a legend in the game. He wore the red dragon with pride and always gave it his all. Football has lost a gem and Wales have lost a true great.

    RIP Gary Speed
    We will never forget you.

  • Comment number 63.

    This is devastating and heart numbing news. Gary was a very likeable chap, he always seemed to have a smile on his face. Wales, Football and the World have lost a exemplary role model and person. My thoughts, prays, condolences and heart go out to Gary's loved ones, his friends and everyone affected by his tragedy. May he R.I.P and God bless him and all his dear family and friends at this hour of distress and pain. x

  • Comment number 64.

    Great account of some of Gary's last moments. The touching tributes I've been reading throughout the day are true testament to the professional he was and will be undoubtedly remembered as being a great ambassador to the game we love. RIP Gary Speed

  • Comment number 65.

    Thanks for writing this Dan. It can't have been easy and thoughts are with you all who met Gary. Please don't burden yourselves with the 'what if's'.

    I'm an Evertonian and it was always a privilige to have watched him play for us. And though he left us at a difficult time, he did so well for the rest of his career, you couldn't help but admire him.

    Who knows what he could've achieved in the future, it'll only ever be guess work and that's so tragic.

    I hope in time to come when the darkness begins to fade a little, his family and friends can take some comfort in the outpouring of love and the universal praise for Gary. Thinking of them all and anyone going through similar trauma now and always.


  • Comment number 66.

    Touching blog Dan.

    My condolences to the family of Gary speed, a true legend in the football world, it's a shame your not here to know how appreciated and respected you are by so many in reflection of this tragic loss. My thoughts and prayers are with the speed family at this time, goodnight. godbless. speedo

  • Comment number 67.

    Beautifully written and heartfelt. You were lucky enough to meet Gary Speed and your piece shows how much you respected a man who made such a mark in football. He will be sadly missed. I hope that his family will be comforted by memories of his many successes and by the respect in which he was held. It will not be easy for them but they have the thoughts of millions behind them. RIP Gary Speed.

  • Comment number 68.

    u dont realise about the greatness of a man until something tragic happens, but what a great man he was and what a great future he had in front of him, with his 2 little boys and wales rip gary god bless friend

  • Comment number 69.

    Devastating news and having lost a friend in similar circumstances only 2 weeks ago, I offer my love and strength to Louise & family xxx

    Death leaves a heartache no-one can heal.... but love leaves memories no-one can steal x

  • Comment number 70.

    I am actually gutted to hear such sad news, Gary was one of the few footballers who could be used as a positive influence on kids, football has lost a guiding light today, such a shame my condolences to the Speed family, and as a football fan Gary you will be sorely missed. R.I.P...

  • Comment number 71.

    Gary Speed transcended football. In some ways, he also transcended sport. Such were the high principles upon which he valued the way he lived his life. He was an example to us all.

    A true professional who never lost sight of what he did for a living and how important it was to remain 'close' to the game's supporters. This is what 'sport' is at the end of the day - a whole multitude of games played by the few for the benefit of the majority.

    Rest in Peace. God Bless his family and friends at this dreadful time.

  • Comment number 72.

    Brilliant article summing up a footballing legend. He was captain at Everton when I started my fascination with football and over the years he was an inspiration to so many. The first man to make 500 premiership appearances just show his professionalism. Such a promising manager as well, the game of football will be worse off without him. Thoughts are with his family at this time, RIP Gary Speed

  • Comment number 73.

    Everything I've heard and read about Gary tells of a wonderful man who anyone would be happy and proud to know, to work with, to be related to.

    He clearly leaves behind some wonderful memories and a lasting legacy. How many can say the same thing? There have been such beautiful tributes to a man who will be sorely missed.

    To the Speed family, friends and colleagues, I'm so sorry for your sadness and pain. Hopefully in time the happy memories will shine through as they deserve to.
    Sincere condolences at a time when words are woefully inadequate.

  • Comment number 74.

    A very sad day. The loss of a true gentleman and wonderful talent! My thoughts are with his family.

  • Comment number 75.

    Wonderful article Dan, I think you have poignantly captured emotions shared by so many on this tragic day. Good to have a figure in football journalism who reaches out to normal fans like me, even though you are of course much closer to the world of football than the vast majority of your readers and followers.

    As a 27 year old football fan, Gary Speed has been a continuous presence in football for as long as I can remember. When he retired, only he and Ryan Giggs had scored in every PL campaign - watching him yesterday on Football Focus, he looked so healthy that I wondered whether he could still be doing a job today. But he was already doing a great job elsewhere, as the young and promising manager of an exciting Wales team. He had everything going for him - I just can't believe after watching him looking so happy and relaxed on TV just yesterday that I'm now talking about Gary Speed in the past tense. The scenes at Swansea had me choking back the tears. The world of football will not forget Gary Speed and I only hope that one good thing comes out of this - that anybody else feeling the same way Gary did will be taught where to get help.

    Rest in peace, Gary Speed - love and strength to your family and loved ones.

  • Comment number 76.

    Excellent blog Mr Walker, really captures the whole shock and surprise that everyone is feeling after such terribly sad news. Rarely is a footballer of this day and age held in such high regard as what Gary was, you only have to read the tributes on several media platforms to realise that this was a footballer who was loved by everyone regardless of the team they follow. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Speed family. Sir Bobby is waiting for you, rest in peace Speedo.

  • Comment number 77.

    I have to echo whoever said this is the best blog they have read on the BBC - for me it truly is.

    Completely right that this isnt the time for speculating or going into reasons why, this is time to pay respects to someone who was massive in the game of football.

    I'm shocked and genuinely moved by the news today, when i found out i just stopped in my tracks, absolute disbelief.

    For someone who comes across as a genuinely nice bloke to have so tragically passed away is a shame not only for football but for the world in general. Welsh legend, Premier League legend and just starting on his way to hopefully becoming a managerial legend - such a sad sad day.

    I wish that I had have been as lucky as you Dan to have met him, he deserves all the plaudits possible for his work on and off the pitch. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time - RIP Gary Speed - you will be missed a massive amount - thank you for what you have given to football.

  • Comment number 78.

    Gary Speed was the personification of professionalism and passion in everything he did during his time in football! Dan's words in this blog just paint such a wonderful picture of a man loved and respected by all.
    His loss to the world of football and the Welsh National team is huge, but in these times of sadness, it is his family and friends who we all pray for!

  • Comment number 79.

    Gary Speed never played for my team at either club or international levels. He was never a massive star who'd grace a video game cover. He would rarely turn to a newspaper to make comments about his club, his opponents of the league that were anything other than full of respect. And yet because he was a great player with a big heart I don't know anyone who didn't love him.

    There are always some unfortunate elements of society who'll be disrespectful but we just need to take a lesson from Gary & rise above it with dignity. No-one knows the circumstances of his death yet but it's sparked a debate on depression & suicide. Even if this wasn't the case with Gary, it's a true tribute to him that so many people care about him so much to want to prevent anyone else going through what they believe he went through.

    As they sang in Swansea: there's only one Gary Speed.

  • Comment number 80.

    an outstanding talent, a top draw professional, a great man! i always dreaded seeing his name in the oppositions line up just because he was such a talented and commited footballer who never gave less than 100% and he always seemed to be at the top of his game. The football world has lost a true hero but a hero who will never be forgotten.

  • Comment number 81.

    The shock that has come across from everyone speaks volumes. One of the abiding memories I have of him as an Everton player was his debut against Newcastle in 1996. Everyone was talking about Alan Shearer before the game becauuse he'd just become Britain's most expensive player, and yet Gary Speed and Duncan Ferguson completedly stole his limelight. Whether it's just rose-tinted memory or not, I don't think he ever had a bad game for us, and I doubt he had many for anyone else. It saddens me greatly to think that he could have gone through something so awful that it has led him to take his own life.

  • Comment number 82.

    Your father/husband touched millions of lives in such a positive manner, this has rocked everyone's world today but the only ones who matter are you. I hope they give you the time you need to grieve.

    Gary Speed was a hero and respected adversary and as long as he is remembered he will never die.

    Rest In Peace

  • Comment number 83.

    To say he was my hero is an understatment. Aged 16 I watched him playing for Leeds on TV and that was that. I lived and breathed football from that moment. He literally changed my life as without him there is no way I would have become such a massive football fan. I begged my parents to take me to my home club of Norwich when Leeds came to play, and I actually sat in the the Barclay with a Leeds scarf on!! As a fickle teenager my love of Leeds waned as I started going to watch Norwich regularly, and have now been a season ticket holder and ardent Norwich fan for the last 17 years. That was because of him. I never stopped admiring him and I was so proud that he had such a fantastic career, was so well respected and loved, and that he became manager of his country. I am totally devastated, and many tears have been shed today. And that from someone that never actually met him. I can only go someway to understanding how those that actually knew him must feel. To his family, know that he was loved many. The word legend is often used inappropriately, but he really truly was one.

  • Comment number 84.

    If you have never suffered from depression (assuming that is what it is) it is incredibly difficult to understand what it does to people.

    You can have everything, family, career, wealth, whatever, but it can all mean nothing at the worst of times. In fact, the feeling that they would all be better off without you is overpowering.

    You have to appear normal in life, as life goes on, no matter how crap you feel, hence the comments that seemed nothing was wrong, normal self etc. You build a facade, a projection that people see, but which hides everything underneath.

    I hope that people try to understand what has happened and why it has happened, I was shocked and moved at the news today but if it was due to depression can understand why.

  • Comment number 85.

    I have fallen out of love with the game a little recently following issues such as Tevez / Man City, FIFA Corruption etc and I guess in part that is down to the fact that I compare everything back to the days when Gary was at his pomp. Back in the early days of the Premier League I idolised players like Gary Speed along with Giggs, Cantona, Scholes, Beckham, Fowler, McManaman, Redknapp and Collymore (to name but a few). It was a great time to be a football fan and Gary was central to that and a key part in the development of the Premier League and it's popularity. I think what made him special was that it never seemed to go to his head, he always seemed a level headed, very personable and likeable guy. I watched Football Focus yesterday and revelled in the banter between McAllister and Speed, I loved the video of them both at Leeds as it took me back to the time when I enjoyed football the most. Gary Speed will be sadly missed; a devastating and thought provoking day. Thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in Peace

  • Comment number 86.

    I feel that the word legend is used to often these days but Gary Speed was a true legend and a great professional. Gary the world is a worse place without you here. I offer my sincere condolences to the whole of the Speed family. I loved watching Gary play for his beloved Everton.

    RIP Gary!!!!

  • Comment number 87.

    well written Dan, i watched the show and Gary appeared to be a man who had so much to look forward to, a true loss

  • Comment number 88.

    Gutted. Shocked. Numb. Devastated. All I can say is thanks for the memories Gary, you were a true inspiration to me and many others. A true professional and a huge role model for me. Will never get over this news. Managed to enjoy watching you for my Newcastle on 3 or 4 occasions and you were different class every time, so talented, could hit the ball so sweet, your tackling was spot on and your passing was to be admired. RIP Speedo.... Gone but definatley never never never forgotton.

  • Comment number 89.

    I started watching leeds at the same time gary started playing for them, not only did love to watch him play i had him on my bedroom wall , i even tried growing my hair like his but did not have the looks to go with the curly mop .

    When i heard about this sad loss not just for football but for all his family and friends i felt as if it was a friend of mine even though i never met him , i had to go to elland road this afternoon to lay some flowers outside .

    It just goes to show what a fantastic man he was touching the hearts of people who never met him , i was privilaged to see him play and that beaming smile whenever scored

    My thoughts go out to the loved ones on such a sad sad day

    You will never be forgotten and will always live on in the memorysof others especially in mine , Gary you was true ledgend and always will be .

  • Comment number 90.

    Saw Gary on Football Focus yesterday & was open-mouthed with shock at today's news. As a female football fan, I've always considered him to be a handsome lad, but I watched him and thought that he looked even better at 42 than he did at 22!! My heart goes out to his parents, wife, sons, family & friends.

  • Comment number 91.

    Brilliantly blog - sums up the sadness very well. The width and depth of tributes coming in toda has been quite outstanding.

  • Comment number 92.

    I could try to find words fitting for this tragic occasion, but I think that task is almost impossible. Just sleep tight, Gary Speed, you utter legend. Love to his family and friends x

  • Comment number 93.

    I never knew gary speed i only ever seen him play for my team newcastle and what a bargin he was. Heard all the tributes to day of not only a great player but a great father and husband. My heart goes out to the speed family,relatives and close friends what a fantastic person he was R.I.P GARY SPEED.

  • Comment number 94.

    The trouble with rolling media and the internet is that none of us who are expressing our feelings on here have had a chance to process the awfulness of Gary's death. More considered stuff will be written here in a week or two

  • Comment number 95.

    Well said Dan. Gary Speed was a player I had immense respect and Admiration for. I have watched him play many times for Newcastle & can honestly say he never let the club, or the fans down. Great in the air, brave & strong in the tackle, and cultured on the ball. A great player who held a genuine affection and affinity with the club and the region. Though I never met Gary personally, he seems to have left a positive impression on everyone he has met, which in his profession these days seems a very rare quality. I am absolutely gutted gary is no longer with us have his parents,wife, kids & friends in my thoughts & prayers. A very sad day.

  • Comment number 96.

    Dan, this blog may well go down in history as it is one of the bravest, most honest pieces of journalism that has probably ever appeared on this site. Thank you for having the courage to compose yourself and write something that has the presence of mind to capture the confusion and stunned grief and what appears to be a whole nation in mourning. Sad to think that Gary will never know how he actually fell in the hearts and minds of people, some of whom, will only ever have a passing interest in his profession. A shining light has gone out in football today, and the world is darker for it.

  • Comment number 97.

    i'm devastated to hear the sad news of garys death he was a great player and the makings of a great manager,you'll be sadley missed by all RIP gary speed gone to young but'll be never forgotton!

  • Comment number 98.

    We can't possibly know any of the details behind this, but I can say somthing, and this is it: Gary Speed was a good and decent man. Many looked up to him and he gave a lot of people and his country a lot of pride. A gifted footballer, a courageous team mate, a wise leader and mentor. If his family do read this, then I can't stress enough at the high esteem, and yes, love, that the footbaling community had for him.

  • Comment number 99.

    gary speed,what a solid,consistent player..feel like i knew the man personally,gutted when i heard news,proper football man...R.I.P. GARY...

  • Comment number 100.

    Well done Dan for what must have been a difficult piece to write.
    Gary seemed like a a fantastic person both on and off the field. It's such a shame for something like this to happen to show how many peoples lives he touched and for him possibly not to know this fact makes it a greater shame. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this very sad time. RIP Gary Speed, gone but not forgotten.


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