CELEBRITY lawyer Gerald Kean has spoken of his shock at the death of his "close friend" Gary Speed.
The world of football has been in mourning since Wales manager Speed (42) was found hanged in his home in Cheshire, Manchester, yesterday morning.
"I go back 20 years with him. I was only talking to him last week," Mr Kean told the Herald today.
"He was very much a glass-half-full guy. He had everything going for him. At my age, you come to expect the unexpected but I was just shocked," he added.
Mr Kean was speaking to Gary last Monday and invited him over to his renovated home, along with other former Newcastle teammates Shay Given, Alan Shearer and Steve Harper.
"Gary was a real gentleman. He would treat you and me the same way as the Pope or Enda Kenny," he said.
Mr Kean has been speaking to Alan Shearer since the devastating news broke, with the Newcastle legend telling him he was numb.
"I have lost so many good friends. In some cases you might say afterwards you could understand their problems but I can't understand anything about this. If you asked me to ask any footballer that was a happy guy I would say Gary Speed."
Mr Kean said what Gary achieved with Wales was amazing and he was much sought after by TV and newspapers.
He acted for him a number of times and also played golf with him on many occasions over the years, in Portugal, Newcastle and Ireland among other places.
Mr Kean met Gary's family once or twice but it usually would have been "him with the lads playing golf".
"He loved coming over to Ireland over the years," he added.
He has not seen him for six months, however.
Speed died only a few hours after appearing on the BBC's Football Focus programme on Saturday.
Mystery surrounds his death, with friends at a loss to explain why Speed, a successful young manager and former Premier League player, would apparently take his own life.
One of the most striking images following news of his death was that of Shay Given, wiping tears from his eyes as his side Aston Villa kicked off against Swansea yesterday.
Mr Kean said he is friends with many footballers and got to know Gary through his friendship with Gordon Strachan.