Speed, 42, can only be described as one of the game’s ‘good guys’ who had a long and prolonged career in the game, playing professionally for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United as well as winning 85 caps for the Welsh national team; a record for an outfield player which still stands, before going on to coach both Sheffield United and Wales.
Managers, players and fans from all over the country have been sending in tributes for the popular Speed, including those from clubs whom he did not play which highlight just what a professional he was and how high he was held in the game.
I had the pleasure of seeing him play in a Sheffield United shirt against Coventry a few years ago and needless to say he ran the game. He was a natural leader on the pitch and that’s why becoming a manager seemed to be the natural step for him.
After retiring from playing on the field he became Sheffield United manager and within four months had become the Welsh national boss and seemed to transform them. Only yesterday in his last public appearance on BBC Football First he was talking about his hopes for Wales come the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
I’m just shocked to be honest. I’m a little lost for words.
But it’s summed up perfectly by one of my friends who I shall not name when he tweeted; “I guess today just shows that no matter how happy and content you appear on the outside, nobody else knows what’s going on in your head”
The world of football really has lost one of the game’s last gentlemen.
My thoughts are with Gary Speed’s family and friends at this very difficult moment.