Gary Speed

January 1, 2000

                                                          

Gary Speed’s death was announced by the Football Association of Wales on 27th November 2011, leading to numerous tributes from fellow footballers and from others inside and outside of the game.

Football supporters from all around the country showed their respect and appreciation for his life by applauding loudly before games over subsequent days.

He was described in his obituary in The Independent as “one of the most promising young managers in the world game”.

This from Wikipedia on the World Wide Web:

Gary Andrew Speed, MBE (8 September 1969 – 27 November 2011) was a Welsh football player and manager. He was captain of the Wales national football team until he retired from international football in 2004 and he remains the most capped outfield player for Wales and the second overall, having appeared 85 times at senior level between 1990 and 2004.

Speed played professionally for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United. Rarely troubled by injury or suspension, he held the record for the most appearances in the Premier League at 535, until it was surpassed by David James. At the time of his death, only James and Ryan Giggs had played in more Premier League matches than Speed.

Including his appearances in The Football League and cup competitions, he made 840 domestic appearances, in addition to 85 full caps at international level. He played in the Leeds United team that won the Football League First Division championship in 1991/92, the year before the FA Premier League was formed. He also played in consecutive FA Cup Finals for Newcastle United, in 1998 and in 1999.

Football clubs across England where Gary Speed played have said they are stunned by his death. I found the following on the internet:

Gordon Strachan starred alongside Speed, Gary McAllister and David Batty at Leeds. He said:

“People have problems in footy where you have an indication that something is wrong, but this one is right out of the blue. I trained beside him for six years at Leeds and I was proud of Gary Speed every time I saw him play or train.”

Everton manager David Moyes and chairman Bill Kenwright both paid their tributes to Speed, who was at Goodison Park from 1996 to 1998.

Moyes, said; “Gary was a great servant to Everton during his time at Goodison.”

Kenwright, added; “Gary was everything a footballer should aspire to be.”

Up at Newcastle United Alan Pardew said; “He was a great player here and a captain of this club, and he has been a big loss to us this week. The training ground has been heavy, particularly the first two days, because we had a lot of staff and players who don’t just remember him as a great player, but as a great person, so it has been a difficult week.”

Sam Allardyce also paid tribute to Speed, both as a player and a person. He said;

“I was fortunate to take Gary to Bolton. At that stage he was a young 34 and most people were saying he was getting past it, but in actual fact his stats were absolutely outstanding. His life was about standards, he had a high standard for everything that he did.”

Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor suggested there was an appetite within his organisation for a public recognition of Gary Speed. Taylor said,

“He was so popular, so friendly and I never heard a bad word about him. A real light has gone out in the football world.”

Gary had revitalised Welsh fortunes after taking over last December, overseeing a recent run of four wins in five games that had raised hopes they could launch a genuine bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Gareth Bale has vowed to honour Gary Speed’s memory by continuing the progress Wales made under the national boss.

He said; “Everyone is devastated and it is a massive loss to everyone in football.”

Bale added: “We were on the up. He changed the way we play and the whole mentality of our game. It is a massive loss, but we will try and carry on the best we can in his honour.”

Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford hailed Speed’s influence on the national team since becoming manager.

“He was a true professional, a fantastic gentleman and he got the players where they wanted to be. They wanted to play for him and it wasn’t just players, it was the fans, the staff, everybody around him.”

“I was with him at the World Cup qualifying draw and we looked at each other when each of those teams came out and agreed every one of those matches was winnable. The future was bright and the last few games were packed with positivity.”

“We were on a roll and there was a great optimism about the place that the team had a fantastic opportunity to qualify for 2014.”

In the memory of Gary Speed, alongside England, I will be supporting Wales to do just that; let’s hope so.

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