Football pays tribute to Speed

28 November 2011 09:22

Tributes have poured in for Gary Speed as the football world mourned the death of the popular Wales manager.

Former team-mates, managers and clubs have described Speed as the model professional as they come to terms with his death. Cheshire Police confirmed he was found dead at his home on the outskirts of Chester, and said there were "no suspicious circumstances". Sources confirmed Speed was found hanged.

Speed was described as a "star in the true sense" by Howard Wilkinson, under whose management he helped Leeds win the 1992 First Division title. "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 told BBC Radio Five Live.

"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."

Robbie Savage, who played alongside Speed for Wales for nine years, broke down in tears as he reflected on the loss of his friend.

"I spoke to him yesterday (Saturday) morning. We were laughing and joking. He was in high spirits. I can't believe it," he told BBC News. "He came to Strictly Come Dancing (where Savage is a contestant) three or four weeks ago and he and his wife sat with us.

"After my routine I high-fived him and we had a drink in the bar afterwards. He was larger than life. He is my mate and he's gone. I'd grown very close to him in the last few years. He's left two gorgeous kids behind and a beautiful wife. He had everything."

Savage was one of many former team-mates to honour the memory of the 42-year-old, who was highly respected as a player and had made a promising start to life as a manager.

Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs, who played alongside Speed for 13 years with Wales, admitted his disbelief at the news.

"I am totally devastated. Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate and friend," he said. "Words cannot begin to describe how sad I feel at hearing this awful news."

Source: PA

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