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Wilkinson pays tribute to ‘true star’ Gary

Former Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson led the tributes to Gary Speed as the football world tried to come to terms with the death of the Wales manager.

Cheshire Police confirmed Speed was found dead at his home on the outskirts of Chester, and said there were no suspicious circumstances. Sources confirmed Speed was found hanged.

Wilkinson viewed the 42-year-old, who he managed while guiding Leeds to the 1992 First Division title, as a “star in the true sense”.

“The players I worked with represented all colours of the rainbow in terms of character, but in Gary's case he was a star in the true sense,” Wilkinson said.

“I've known Gary since 1988 when I joined Leeds and I've rarely come across a better balanced, lovely, genuine person.

“He was a terrific player, not as gifted as some but he made the most of everything he had.”

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish spoke of his sadness and took the decision to withdraw Craig Bellamy from yesterday's 1-1 draw with Manchester City. Bellamy, 32, had rejuvenated his international career under Speed.

“Gary was like a mentor to ‘Bellars' and I took the decision myself,” said Dalglish. “There are more important things than playing a football match. I know Gary Speed. He was a fantastic footballer, but more importantly a decent fellow.”

An emotional Robbie Savage, who played alongside Speed for Wales, admitted he was struggling to comprehend the sudden death of his close friend.

“I spoke to him on Saturday morning. We were laughing and joking. I can't believe it,” he said.

“He is my mate and he's gone. He's left two gorgeous kids behind and a beautiful wife. He had everything.”

His former clubs also spoke warmly of him as they gave their reaction to the news.