South West Wales

Gary Speed tribute: Fans gather to honour late Wales manager

Craig Bellamy (centre) with Gary Speed's sons Ed and Tom during the International Friendly at Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
Image caption Speed's sons Ed and Tom joined Wales captain Craig Bellamy on the pitch for the national anthems

Thousands of fans have gathered to pay tribute to Gary Speed at the late Wales football manager's memorial match.

Acts including Bryn Terfel, Super Furry Animals and Only Men Aloud performed ahead of the friendly match against Costa Rica at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Ex-Wales stars Ryan Giggs, John Hartson, Mark Hughes, Neville Southall and Robbie Savage were among former players to be introduced at half-time.

The game was also attended by members of Speed's family.

His two sons, Ed and Tom, took to the pitch before kick-off, where they stood alongside Craig Bellamy, Wales' captain for the night, during the national anthems.

Both boys then shook hands with the Costa Rica captain, before the players gathered around the centre circle as a prolonged round of applause broke out in the stands.

They then returned to the side of the pitch to be greeted by their father's parents, Roger and Carol, standing with new Wales manager Chris Coleman.

During the match the crowd of more than 23,000 continued to burst into applause from time to time.

An emotional night ended when the full-time whistle blew with Costa Rica running out 1-0 winners.

Charities to benefit

In the run-up to the game the Football Association of Wales (FAW) said it wanted the fixture to be a celebration of Speed's life.

A number of charities will also benefit from the match after being nominated by Speed's family.

Cancer support charity Macmillan and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm), which looks to help reduce suicides among men under 35, will benefit financially from the match.

Image caption Gary Speed captained Wales 44 times and scored seven goals before later becoming manager

The Daisy Garland, a charity involved with lives touched by epilepsy and Wrexham FC under-15 boys academy, where Speed's son Ed is a member, will also benefit.

The Craig Bellamy Foundation in Sierra Leone - set up by the Liverpool player who will captain Wales for the game - has asked for a donation of playing kit and equipment.

Former international Matthew Jones also completed a half-marathon at the stadium, collecting funds for the Spinal Injuries Association.

He will be competing in full marathons in the future, having originally been encouraged to do so by Speed.

'Tragic event'

Carl Sargeant, AM for Alyn and Deeside, paid tribute to a "local boy that went on to lead a nation".

He added: "Hopefully tonight's memorial match will allow us, whilst not to fully understand what has happened, maybe to draw a line under this tragic event.

"My thoughts remain with Gary's family at this time and I would also like to draw attention to the charity highlighted by the Speed family, Calm... which aims to help reduce suicide to young men."

The Wales manager's body was found hanged in the garage at his home near Chester last November.

The coroner at his inquest said he could not be satisfied the 42-year-old former Premier League star intended to kill himself.

Following Speed's death last year, there was an outpouring of grief in the footballing community.

Fans at grounds around the country took part in tributes to the former Welsh captain, who played for a number of Premier League clubs, including Leeds, Newcastle, Everton, and Bolton, and managed Sheffield United.

More on this story