Welsh Football Manager Gary Speed 'Commits Suicide' At 42

online "sans-serif"; font-size: small; mso-bidi-font-family: ‘Times New Roman’;”>The former Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton star, who appeared on BBC’s Football Focus show yesterday, was aged 42.

Police say there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, which is thought to be suicide. He leaves his wife Louise and two sons.

As news of the tragedy struck, tribute flooded in for the Wales boss who only retired from playing last year after winning 85 caps for his country and scoring seven goals.

A hastily-arranged minute’s silence was then held at Swansea City’s match against Aston Villa at the Liberty Stadium after the news broke today.

Former teammate Shay Given, now Villa’s goalkeeper, was seen in floods of tears before the match.

The Football Association of Wales today confirmed that their manager had died.

In a statement, the FAW said: ‘The Football Association of Wales are sad to announce the death of the national team manager Gary Speed.

‘We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family. We ask that everyone respects the family’s privacy at this very sad time.’

A Cheshire Police spokesman added: ‘At 7.08am today Cheshire Police was informed of a sudden death at an address in Huntingdon, Chester.

‘Officers went to the scene where a 42-year-old man was found dead. The next of kin have been informed and have confirmed the identity of the man as Gary Speed.

‘There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and the family have requested that they are left to grieve in peace.

‘The death will now be a matter for the coroner.’

Within minutes, thousands of messages of condolence had been left on Twitter.

Ex-Wales boss Mark Hughes said: ‘I’m devastated. He was a privilege to work alongside and call a friend. My thoughts are with his family.’

Bobby Gould, who made Mr Speed Wales captain, added: ‘I’m stunned and a few tears have been shed. It is so sad.

‘He was a great pro. He would play anywhere for you – left back, left wing, centre of midfield, wide left. It’s such a tragedy.

‘People are just stunned. I saw John Hartson earlier and I said “have you heard about Gary?”. The big man just cried and cried. We cuddled each other.

That is his respect towards Gary to say ‘I can’t work this afternoon’. Speedo was his pal. They were buddies.

‘Gary was the ultimate professional.’

Mr Speed was a guest on the BBC’s Football Focus show on Saturday with host Dan Walker.

Today, Mr Walker tweeted: ‘Staggered by the news of Gary Speed’s death.

‘Was with him for most of yesterday. I genuinely cannot believe it. Thoughts with his family.’

Former Wales teammate Robbie Savage speaking about the death of Gary Speed on BBC News

Mr Speed – who was with Gary McAllister on the show – told Walker that there was nothing like playing football.

Speaking on BBC News today, former Wales teammate Robbie Savage said: ‘I just can’t believe it. He was my mate and he’s gone.

‘I’ve got very close to Gary in the last few years – the guy is a trooper, he’s left two gorgeous kids behind and a beautiful wife. He had everything, he had everything.

‘I spoke to him yesterday and we were laughing and joking – he was saying make sure you don’t get a two off Craig (Revel Horwood, the Strictly Come Dancing judge) tonight, you know. That’s what Gary’s like – he always thinks about other people.

As my captain when I was a young boy in the squad, he’d come to me and I could go to him with my problems.’

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish said: ‘My blood ran cold when I heard the news – it’s absolutely horrific.

‘Gary was doing fantastic with the Welsh team. It’s very sad news.’

Welsh international footballer Simon Church wrote: ‘I can’t believe it. What a great man and a true welsh footballing legend a great inspiration to all.’

And his fellow player Joe Ledley added: ‘So saddened by the loss of a great guy, manager & footballer. It was a pleasure to work under him. My thoughts are with his family.’

Doncaster manager Dean Saunders, a former international team-mate of Speed, told BBC Five Live: ‘He was so fit – he was one of those players who would stay behind all day in training. I can’t believe what’s happened.’

Asked if the Swansea game against Aston Villa should have been postponed, Saunders added: ‘I just feel for his wife and his dad, I feel sorry for them more than the football.’

Alan Shearer played alongside Speed at Newcastle for six years between 1998 and 2004, formed a close friendship with the Welshman.

He said: ‘Gary was a magnificent person, bright, fun and a wonderful family man – he lit up every room he walked into. I am proud to have been his friend and will miss him dreadfully.’

Newcastle defender Steven Taylor, who came into the first team at St James’s Park when Speed was the side’s senior professional, expressed his gratitude for the help the midfielder gave him at the club.

‘It is a sad, sad day. I played with him when I came through the ranks,’ Mr Taylor told Radio Five Live. ‘He helped me through, he was an absolute machine – the best professional in football.

‘He had that aura about him. He always had time for the young lads and helped them feel good about themselves.’

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan was left shocked by the news as he had met Speed just days ago.

He said: ‘I am speechless at the news of Gary Speed’s death. Craig Levein (Scotland boss) and I had lunch with him on Wednesday in Brussels. He was a talented young manager. So sad.’

Tony Dorigo, who played alongside Speed in the team which won the 1992 title, said on Twitter: ‘I’m completely shocked and saddened. A great guy and a better team-mate you couldn’t wish for. Speedo, RIP mate.’

Former Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson described Mr Speed’s death as a ‘tragic loss’ and said the former Wales midfielder was a ‘star in the true sense’.

But he said Mr Speed had been ‘subject to all the stress and strains and the good things that happen to one in life.’

‘The players I worked with represented all colours of the rainbow in terms of character but in Gary’s case he was a star in the true sense,’ he told BBC Radio Five Live.

‘For him – at 42 – to leave us is such a tragic loss. He had a life of success to look forward to I’m sure.’

Hailing Mr Speed’s ability on the pitch, he added: ‘It’s unbelievable, I’m still struggling to get my head around it. I’ve known Gary since 1988 when I joined Leeds and I’ve rarely come across a better balanced, lovely, genuine person.


Gary Speed married wife Louise in 1996. The couple have two children Tommy and Ed.

A keen Everton fan, as a youngster Speed attended Hawarden High School.

He began his professional career with Leeds United making his debut at the age of 19, alongside Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty.

He then moved to Everton in 1996 for a fee of £3.5million captaining the club before moving to Newcastle in 1998 for £5.5million.

He then went to Bolton Wanderers in 2004 where in 2006 he became the first player in history to make 500 appearances in the Premiership.

He moved to Sheffield United making his debut on New Years Day 2008 but a back injury that November forced him to retire as a player.

During his international career he played in the Wales side of Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Neville Southall and Dean Saunders.

He captained Wales until hid retirement from international football in 2004. He has been capped for Wales 85 times making him the most capped outfield player.

Appointed an MBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours.

‘He was a terrific player – not as gifted as some but he made the most of everything he had – worst of all for me I knew his parents, in particular his dad, his lovely wife and family – I just find it very very difficult to come to terms with it. I cannot start to try and understand what his family are going through at this time.’

Television presenter Gethin Jones tweeted: ‘I can’t believe this news about Gary Speed. He was such a top man, a true gent. Had so much time for everyone. It doesn’t feel real, so young.’

And Welsh Rugby star, Leigh Halfpenny said: ‘Shocking news! Sad day for Sport and Wales! RIP Gary Speed.’

Manchester United striker Michael Owen, who lives near the star, tweeted: ‘Just cannot believe the news regarding Gary Speed. We waved at each other a couple of days ago dropping our kids off at school. I’m numb.’

Former international teammate Robbie Savage said on Twitter: ‘He was upbeat on phone yesterday we were laughing together, talking football and dancing he was a great teammate and a great friend.’

DJ Chris Evans wrote on Twitter: ‘The news about Gary Speed is such a shock. Very sad.’

Spanish footballer Xabi Alonso wrote on the site: ‘RIP Gary Speed. My first PL game game was against him, he showed me in that game what is British football about.’

Mark Bowen, who played alongside Speed for Wales for almost 10 years, told the BBC’s The World this Weekend that he was a ‘team-mate you could always rely on’.

He said: ‘It’s a very sad day. Even now there is a numbness about it. We can’t believe it.

‘It should be highlighted in his chosen profession what he actually did. He had a fantastic career as player and as a manager and a coach. It almost seems to pale into insignificance as what it means to his wife and two boys.

‘He was actually a captain of the team when there were a lot of older, senior players in the squad at the same time – the likes of Mark Hughes and Ian Rush. That shows you the measure of the man.

‘Having played with him he was a player, a team-mate you could always rely on. He’d be there for you.

‘He was an uncomplicated character and as a player and he took those traits into management. He had a long career ahead of him.’

Mr Speed won 85 caps for his country during a 14-year international career.

He took over the Wales job in December 2010 despite only having four months managerial experience.

Earlier this month, said the side’s rapid improvement in recent months had exceeded all expectations.

A 4-1 friendly win over Norway represented a third successive win for Wales, and Speed’s fifth in 10 games as manager.

Earlier this week Mr Speed’s young side were handed a series of tough World Cup fixtures in their bid to reach Brazil 2014.

Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs said: ‘I’m totally devastated. Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a teammate and friend.

Gary Speed in his playing days turning out for Everton (left) and Leeds United

Pressure: Wales captain Gary Speed during a press conference at the Vale Hotel, Cardiff, in November

Mr Speed, playing as captain of Newcastle United, celebrates scoring against Wimbledon at St James’s Park (left) and appearing for Wales

‘Words cannot begin to describe how sad I feel at hearing this awful news. It goes without saying that my thoughts are with his family at this tremendously sad time.’

Wales captain and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey tweeted: ‘I was given the tragic news this morning. To say I am devastated is an understatement.

‘My thoughts and prayers go out to Gary’s family and friends. Today the world has lost a great football manager but even more sadly a great man. He will be missed by all.’

Mr Speed began his playing career at Leeds United after coming through the trainee ranks.

He was part of the side that won the last Football League title in 1992, before the start of the Premier League.

Leeds spokesman Paul Dews said: ‘Everyone connected with Leeds United is saddened and stunned to hear about Gary.

‘He was a very popular and likeable man throughout the world of football, and our thoughts are with Gary’s family and friends.

‘It’s very difficult to put into words how we feel right now. Gary still maintained contact with Leeds United and was very good friends with our manager, Simon Grayson.

‘This year we are celebrating 20 years since our title-winning campaign of 1991-92 and Gary was very instrumental in us winning that.

‘Leeds remained very close to Gary’s heart and Leeds’ fans will be stunned, saddened and shocked to hear the news today.’

A reunion dinner was held at Leeds United’s ground Elland road on Saturday, October 29, to celebrate the title win and Gary Speed had not turned up.

Gary Speed, in Newcastle colours, being presented with an award for playing his 400th Premiership match by Sir Bobby Robson before the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St James Park in 2004

Mr Speed, who made his footballing debut with Leeds at just 19, played a key role in winning the Football League First Division championship title in 1992 – the last time the team had any trophy success.

He was absent for the reunion picture, which featured club captain Gordon Strachan, players Gary McAllister and Lee Chapman, and manager Howard Wilkinson.

Mr Speed always looked back on his time at Leeds United and attributed his successful management style to Gordon Strachan.

Bolton, for whom Speed made more than 100 appearances between 2004 and 2008, also paid tribute in a statement on the official club website.

‘Bolton Wanderers is deeply saddened to hear of the death of former player and club captain Gary Speed and wish to extend our deepest sympathy to his family,’ the statement read.

Bolton chairman Phil Gartside added: ‘We are all stunned at the news of Gary.

‘Not only was he a top-class professional but was a wonderful person who is very fondly remembered by all of us and our thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with his family at this time.’

A statement from Sheffield United, where he finished his playing career and went on to manage, read: ‘Everybody at Sheffield United is extremely shocked and saddened to learn of the death of former player and manager Gary Speed.

‘Thoughts are with Gary’s family and friends at this distressing time.’

Hugh Robertson, the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, said: ‘This is tragic and sad news. Gary Speed was a wonderful servant to his clubs and country throughout his career. My thoughts are with his family.’

Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan said: ‘This is a sad day for football and for everyone in Wales. Gary Speed served club and country as a player and manager with great distinction.’

Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones said: ‘I’m deeply saddened to hear about the death of Gary Speed. This is devastating news and our thoughts are with his family at what must be a very difficult time for them.

‘I’m deeply saddened to hear about the death of Gary Speed.

‘This is devastating news and our thoughts are with his family at what must be a very difficult time for them.’

Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted: ‘Tragic and shocking news about Gary Speed. Fantastic servant of Leeds. Mourned by football. Deepest condolences to his family.’


Header advertisement
To Top