Soccer

More tributes for Gary Speed

2011-11-28 16:01
Gary Speed (File)

London - Tributes continued to flood in for Gary Speed on Monday as the soccer world reacted with shock and sadness to the suicide of one of its most popular figures.

The FIFA and Welsh flags were both at half mast at the Swiss headquarters of the ruling body FIFA as a mark of respect for the 42-year-old Wales manager, who was found dead at his home on Sunday, having apparently hanged himself.

"Gary Speed was a hugely talented player and a great servant for both club and country who will be greatly missed. He will always be remembered as a model professional and a fantastic ambassador for the game," said FIFA president Sepp Blatter in a letter to the Welsh FA posted on the FIFA website.

"I would like to offer my deepest condolences on behalf of FIFA and the worldwide family of football to you, the Football Association of Wales, his wife Louise and their two sons, as well as Gary Speed's friends and family."

Former team-mates and managers also paid tribute to Speed, who played 535 Premier League games and won 85 Wales caps before taking over as manager last year.

"Sometimes you have an indication that something is wrong but this one came right out of the blue," said Gordon Strachan, who played with Speed at Leeds United.

"He wasn't the most talented of kids when I first saw him but he wanted to make himself better. I used to say to players 'If you want to look at somebody to see how to be a footballer, look at Gary Speed'. He got the most out of what he had.

"I am going to miss his laugh. He had a child-like laugh. I'll forget the goals but I will never forget his laugh. I said to Gary McAllister, 'I'm never going to hear that again'."

"I've never known of such grief and loss," the Players Football Association chairman Gordon Taylor told Sky Sports News.

Fans have left scarves and tributes at the home grounds of his former clubs, Leeds, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United, but Taylor suggested a more formal tribute would be arranged.

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

"He was a great legend of a player and every time I saw him he had a smile. It's terribly sad on behalf of everyone. He was one of our finest ever members, our sincere thoughts and condolences to his wife and sons."

The West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce signed Speed for Bolton.

"As soon as he walked into the club he had an aura. He did everything to detail," he said.

"When generally an old professional might moan and groan and say 'I don't want to do this' he just took it on board.

"His life was about standards, he had a high standard for everything that he did. To sum it up, if you had a daughter and she brought Gary Speed home you'd be delighted."

A spokesman for British prime minister David Cameron said on Sunday he was "deeply saddened" by Speed's death and said his thoughts were with the family.

Read more on:    international soccer  |  gary speed
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