Gary Speed MBE
8 September 1969 – 27 November 2011
Having been away from all radio, internet and cellphone contact this weekend (try it, you might like it), I was hugely shocked and saddened (as I’m sure many others were) to hear of the apparent suicide of Gary Speed – footballer, Wales manager and – more pertinently for me – ex-Sheffield United player and boss.
Here’s the statement from the United website:
Everyone at Sheffield United Football Club is shocked to hear of the death of former player, coach and manager Gary Speed.
Gary made his debut for the Blades on New Year’s Day 2008 in a 0-0 draw against Wolves. He retired as a player in the summer of 2009 but continued his career in the game by taking up a coaching role at Sheffield United.
Three games into the 2010/11 season Gary replaced Kevin Blackwell as manager before moving to manage the Wales national team in December 2010.
Sheffield United director Scott McCabe said: “This is devastating news. All the thoughts and prayers of the board of directors and staff at the club are with Gary’s family at this very sad time.”
Former playing colleague now player coach with the Blades, Chris Morgan: “I just cannot believe that Gary has died. He was extremely popular at Bramall Lane both as a player and in a managerial capacity with all the lads. His death is a very sad loss.”
All too often when someone young (Speed was just 42 years old) and well-known passes away, the grief athletes come out in droves and lament their death as if they were a saint. I’m usually rather more emotionless and rational, but in this instance, I find myself sad at the passing of a man who appeared throughout his career to be a genuine, honest and down-to-earth guy.
RIP Gary Speed.