RIP Gary Speed

Gary Speed, former Welsh international footballer and captain and recently manager of their national side, was found dead yesterday at his home in Huntington, Cheshire. It’s being ruled a suicide by hanging. He was only 42 years old. No apparent reason for his decision has come out yet. Friends & relatives of Speed are shocked at him having hung himself and are asking themselves what could have led him to take his own life when he had “everything to live for”.

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¬†FA Premier League¬†at 535, until it was surpassed by¬†David James. Over the years I’ve seen him play and remember him mostly as a Newcastle player. Born in Mancot, Wales he was an Everton supporter growing up but it was with Leeds United that he signed on as a youth trainee and made his professional debut at the age of 19 in 1988.

He would sign with Everton in 1996 and played for them for two years but left under controversial circumstances that were never publicly revealed. He moved to Newcastle in 1998 for a fee of 5.5 million pounds.¬†¬†Speed featured in the club’s¬†FA Cup Final¬†defeats by¬†Arsenal¬†in 1998 and by¬†Manchester United¬†in 1999. He also played in the¬†UEFA Champions League¬†with Newcastle in the 2002‚Äď03 season.

He then played for Bolton from 2004-08 and it was with them that he became ¬†the first player to make 500¬†Premier League¬†appearances when he played in Bolton’s 4‚Äď0 victory over¬†West Ham United¬†in December 2006. The final year and a half of his career was spent at Sheffield United and in 2010 be agreed to become their manager but left is post to take over the reigns of the Welsh national side. Speed had appeared as a guest on¬†BBC One’s¬†Football Focus¬†only a number of hours before his death. The tributes to the likeable Welshman kept pouring in as the evening went on.

Speed married wife Louise in 1996, the couple having two children, Tommy and Eddie. Speed was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.

Rest in peace Gary Andrew Speed,¬†MBE¬†(8 September 1969¬†‚Äď 27 November 2011).

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