Tuesday 22 May 2018

'My family means everything to me’ – Gary Speed’s poignant last interview

Gary Speed pictured recently with his wife Louise
Gary Speed pictured recently with his wife Louise

Tom Lawrence and Paul Keaveny

WALES football manager Gary Speed described his wife and children as the thing he "cherished the most" in a poignant interview given shortly before his death.

The 42-year-old father-of-two said his family meant "everything" to him, and was more important than any medal he had won during his lengthy career.

In the interview with FourFourTwo magazine, Speed said: "The item I cherish the most isn't material. I don't even know where my Leeds championship medal is. So I'd say family: we're an item and they mean everything to me."

An inquest in Warrington yesterday heard how the former Leeds United, Everton and Newcastle United midfielder was found hanged at his Cheshire home by his wife Louise just before 7am on Sunday.

Detective Inspector Peter Lawless, of Cheshire Police, told Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg there appeared to be no suspicious circumstances and a post mortem examination found Speed's death was caused by hanging.

The coroner asked the media to "respect the privacy" of the young manager's family, who did not attend the hearing, before adjourning the inquest until January 30 next year.

Speed's sister Lesley Haylock described her brother as an "inspiration", while the family said they have been "overwhelmed" with messages of support and condolence.

Ms Haylock wrote on Twitter: "I have lost my brother, my friend, my inspiration. I hope you are at peace now Gary. I miss you so much."

Tributes, which have poured in from a host of public and sporting figures, continued at football matches last night with Leeds supporters chanting Speed's name during their game with Nottingham Forest.

Earlier in the day, Welsh Assembly Members observed a minute's silence in the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, while flags continued to fly at half mast outside the Welsh Assembly buildings Ty Hywel and the Senedd.

Supporters have left scarves, football shirts and flowers across several football stadiums - including Everton's Goodison Park, Leeds United's Elland Road, Newcastle United's St James' Park and The Millennium Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium, where Wales played their home games.

The FAW has opened a book of condolences at its offices in Cardiff allowing fans to express their feelings about Speed's death.

Meanwhile, more than 10 football players have been in touch with an organisation to help them come to terms with Speed's death.

Peter Kay, the chief executive of the Sporting Chance Clinic told BBC Radio 5: "I'm hesitant to even link that tragedy with anything good. I think it's almost inappropriate that anything good can come out of such an awful occurrence. But over 10 players have contacted me since that news broke.

"That means 10 people are seeking help. That is an unusual amount."

The news came after Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), urged players to ask for help with any issues which concern them.

Mr Taylor said the PFA, in conjunction with associated partners, regularly helped their members but the greatest hurdle was often making the first step.

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