Tuesday 24 April 2018

Tributes pour in after Speed death

Press Association Reporters

Footballers past and present and other famous figures paid tribute to Wales manager Gary Speed and expressed their condolences after the shocking news of his untimely death broke today.

Former Wales player Robbie Savage wrote a series of heartfelt messages on Twitter, voicing his grief at the loss of the friend he had spoken to only yesterday.

He wrote: "The world has lost a great man in Gary speed I'm devastated spoke to him yesterday morning why ! Why. Why!! I'll miss him so much x

"He come to watch strictly 3/4 weeks ago I high fived him in the front row he loved the show, he loved life he loved his family! Devastated.

"He was upbeat on phone yesterday we were laughing together, talking football and dancing he was a great teammate and a great friend. RIP."

Manchester United striker Michael Owen tweeted: "Just cannot believe the news regarding Gary Speed. We waved at each other a couple of days ago dropping our kids off at school. I'm numb.

"He has died aged 42. So sad. He lived local to me and we knew his family. He leaves behind 2 sons. Tragic."

A message on Aston Villa Football Club's Twitter feed read: "RIP Gary Speed. Condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time."

Leeds United fan Chris Moyles tweeted: "Just heard the very sad news about Gary Speed. Such a sad loss and so young. RIP."

Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, said: "I'm deeply saddened to hear about the death of Gary Speed.

"This is devastating news and our thoughts are with his family at what must be a very difficult time for them."

DJ Chris Evans wrote on Twitter: "The news about Gary Speed is such a shock. Very sad."

Spanish footballer Xabi Alonso wrote on the site: "RIP Gary Speed. My first PL game game was against him, he showed me in that game what is British football about."

Mark Bowen, who played alongside Speed for Wales for almost 10 years, told the BBC's The World this Weekend that he was a "team-mate you could always rely on".

He said: "It's a very sad day. Even now there is a numbness about it. We can't believe it.

"It should be highlighted in his chosen profession what he actually did. He had a fantastic career as player and as a manager and a coach. It almost seems to pale into insignificance as what it means to his wife and two boys.

"He was actually a captain of the team when there were a lot of older, senior players in the squad at the same time - the likes of Mark Hughes and Ian Rush. That shows you the measure of the man.

"Having played with him he was a player, a team-mate you could always rely on. He'd be there for you.

"He was an uncomplicated character and as a player and he took those traits into management. He had a long career ahead of him."

Former Wales manager Bobby Gould paid tribute to Speed on BBC Radio Wales: "He was a great pro. He would play anywhere for you - left back, left wing, centre of midfield, wide left. It's such a tragedy.

"People are just stunned. I saw John Hartson earlier and I said 'have you heard about Gary?'. The big man just cried and cried. We cuddled each other.

"He's gone home (from the Liberty Stadium). That is his respect towards Gary to say 'I can't work this afternoon'. Speedo was his pal. They were buddies.

"Gary was the ultimate professional."

Doncaster manager Dean Saunders, a former international team-mate of Speed, told BBC Five Live: "He was so fit - he was one of those players who would stay behind all day in training. I can't believe what's happened."

Asked if the Swansea game against Aston Villa should have been postponed, Saunders added: "I just feel for his wife and his dad, I feel sorry for them more than the football."

Newcastle defender Steven Taylor, who came into the first team at St James' Park when Speed was the side's senior professional, expressed his gratitude for the help the midfielder gave him at the club.

"It is a sad, sad day. I played with him when I came through the ranks," Taylor told Radio Five Live.

"He helped me through, he was an absolute machine - the best professional in football.

"He had that aura about him. He always had time for the young lads and helped them feel good about themselves."

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan was left shocked by the news as he had met Speed just days ago.

He said: "I am speechless at the news of Gary Speed's death.

"Craig Levein (Scotland boss) and I had lunch with him on Wednesday in Brussels. He was a talented young manager. So sad."

Tony Dorigo, who played alongside Speed in the team which won the 1992 title, said on Twitter: "I'm completely shocked and saddened. A great guy and a better team-mate you couldn't wish for. Speedo, RIP mate."

Former Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson described Speed's death as a "tragic loss" and said the former Wales midfielder was a "star in the true sense".

But he said Speed had been "subject to all the stress and strains and the good things that happen to one in life."

"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," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"For him - at 42 - to leave us is such a tragic loss. He had a life of success to look forward to I'm sure."

Hailing Speed's ability on the pitch, he added: "It's unbelievable, I'm still struggling to get my head around it. 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 - worst of all for me I knew his parents, in particular his dad, his lovely wife and family - I just find it very very difficult to come to terms with it. I cannot start to try and understand what his family are going through at this time."

A spokesman for Speed's former club Leeds United said: "We are stunned to learn this news. The club expresses its deepest sadness.

"Gary was very well thought-of throughout the game. He was a very likeable and popular man.

"It's very difficult to find words to describe how we're all feeling right now."

A statement issued by Sheffield United, the club where Speed ended his playing days, read: "Everybody at Sheffield United is extremely shocked and saddened to learn of the death of former player and manager Gary Speed.

"Thoughts are with Gary's family and friends at this distressing time."

Welsh international captain and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey tweeted: "I was given the tragic news this morning. To say I am devastated is an understatement.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to Gary's family and friends. Today the world has lost a great football manager but even more sadly a great man. He will be missed by all."

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