Gary Speed death: Family 'overwhelmed by support'

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Media captionGary Speed's agent and friend, Hayden Evans, said his family had been overwhelmed by the support they have received following his death

The family of Wales manager Gary Speed have been overwhelmed by the support they have received following his death, says his agent.

Hayden Evans said 42-year-old Speed's family wants to thank everyone who has sent messages of condolence and tributes in "a very difficult time".

"We have been overwhelmed by the support and it really has helped," said Mr Evans.

The manager was found at home on Sunday and leaves a wife and two children.

It is understood that he was found hanged. An inquest into his death is due to open on Tuesday.

Speaking outside the Speeds' Cheshire home on Monday afternoon, Mr Evans said: "Gary's family would sincerely like to thank all the people that have sent messages of condolence and tributes in what is a very difficult time.

"We would ask that the family are now given the respect of some privacy to just grieve on their own."

'No signs'

Meanwhile Speed's friends and colleagues have spoken of their inability to understand events leading up to his death.

Former Leeds team-mate Gary McAllister, who appeared with Speed on BBC One's Football Focus on Saturday lunchtime, said the news of his death had "turned me to jelly".

"He was the normal Gary Speed to me," said McAllister. "He was very excited about the prospects of the Welsh national team and was upbeat, looking class, immaculately presented.

"There were no signs, nothing to suggest he was troubled. He looked well and things are going well for him at the moment. I could never have thought that 10-12 hours after I saw him I'd be getting that news. It's a nightmare."

Football Association of Wales (FAW) chief executive Jonathan Ford said the shock and mystery surrounding the death would continue "for many years to come".

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Media captionDavid Beckham says Gary Speed was outstanding as a player and manager

"He had so much passion and belief," said Mr Ford. "It is such a shame that he will not see the fruits of his labour."

Mr Ford also said he had been sent a letter from Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who told him the Welsh flag was flying at half mast over the governing body's headquarters in Zurich.

John Toshack, Speed's predecessor as Wales team manager, said he had spoken to him last week.

"This is very big loss, first for his family, then for the Football Association, for Wales and his fans," he said.

The FAW says it has opened a book of remembrance at its offices in Cardiff which will be open from 09:00 to 16:00 GMT.

'Massive shock'

Figures across the world of football expressed their shock.

David Beckham joined tributes to "an amazing, talented player", while Wales and Tottenham star Gareth Bale said the death was a "massive shock" and the Wales team would carry on "in his honour".

The flags outside the Welsh assembly in Cardiff Bay are flying at half-mast as a mark of respect, and a call has been made for a minute's silence during Tuesday's plenary session in the debating chamber.

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.

Image caption Speed won 85 international caps in a long and distinguished playing career

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.

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

Officers said there were no suspicious circumstances.

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