Gary Speed
Gary Speed.png
Personal information
Full name Gary Andrew Speed
Date of birth 8 September 1969(1969-09-08)
Place of birth    Mancot, Flag of Wales Wales
Date of death    27 November 2011(2011-11-27) (aged 42)
Place of death    Huntington, Flag of England England
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth clubs
?-1988 Flag of England Leeds United
Senior clubs
Years Club App (Gls)
1988-1996
1996-1998
1998-2004
2004-2008
2008-2010
Flag of England Leeds United
Flag of England Everton
Flag of England Newcastle United
Flag of England Bolton Wanderers
Flag of England Sheffield United
0248 0(39)
058 0(15)
0213 (29)0
0121 (14)0
037 (6)0   
National team
?
1990-2004
Flag of Wales Wales U21
Flag of Wales Wales
03 (0)0
085 (7)0
Teams managed
2010
2010-2011
Flag of England Sheffield United
Flag of Wales Wales

Gary Andrew Speed, MBE (8 September 1969 – 27 November 2011) was a Welsh football player and manager. He was captain of the Wales national football team until he retired from international football in 2004 and he remains the most capped outfield player for Wales and the second overall, having appeared 85 times at senior level between 1990 and 2004.

Speed played professionally for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United. Rarely troubled by injury or suspension, he held the record for the most appearances in the FA Premier League at 535, until it was surpassed by David James. Including his appearances in The Football League and cup competitions he made 840 domestic appearances, in addition to 85 full caps at international level.

Speed was appointed manager of Sheffield United in 2010, but he left the club after a few months in December 2010 to manage the Wales national team.

Speed's death was announced by the Football Association of Wales on 27 November 2011, leading to tributes from fellow footballers and public figures.

Personal life

Born in Mancot, Wales, Speed attended Hawarden High School as a child. He supported Everton as a youngster. Speed was married to Louise from 1996 until his death. The couple had two children, Tommy and Eddie. Speed was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.

Playing style and reputation

Speed was a versatile player who could play in left midfield, central midfield, and also at left-back. He possessed great tactical awareness, and could both create and score goals. Regularly a captain, he was said by his teammates to to have been an 'inspirational figure' who led by example and demanded the best from those around him.

He was well known as a 'consummate professional' both on and off the field. He was not blessed with exceptional talent at a young age, but instead developed his technique through many hours of hard work on the training field. He had a reputation as an extremely fit footballer who looked after his body. He had a modern approach to diet and fitness, a rare quality amongst players of his generation. His level of fitness allowed him to avoid injury and to continue playing until the age of 39; he rarely missed a game.

He also had a reputation as a friendly and supportive person, who cared for and took an interest in the lives of the people around him; his 'nice guy' persona made him a popular and well respected figure amongst his peers.

Club career

Leeds United

Speed began his career with Leeds United as a trainee, signing a professional contract on 13 June 1988. He made his first team debut when he was aged 19. He went on to play a key role as they won the Football League First Division championship title in 1992 as part of a midfield that also comprised Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty. Speed featured in the 1996 Football League Cup Final defeat by Aston Villa.

Everton

Speed moved to Everton in 1996, for a fee of £3.5 million. He scored on his debut versus Newcastle United on 17 August 1996. He was installed as captain of the club by then manager Howard Kendall prior to the 1997–98 FA Premier League season.

He left the club in controversial circumstances and the reasons were never revealed. He told the Liverpool Echo: "You know why I’m leaving, but I can’t explain myself publicly because it would damage the good name of Everton Football Club and I’m not prepared to do that."

Newcastle United

Speed was club captain at Everton, but moved to Newcastle United in 1998 for a fee of £5.5 million, in controversial circumstances. Speed featured in the club's FA Cup Final defeats by Arsenal in 1998 and by Manchester United in 1999. He also played in the UEFA Champions League with Newcastle in the 2002–03 season.

Newcastle's manager, Sir Bobby Robson, was sorry to see Speed leave the club, and acknowledged that he would do very well for Bolton Wanderers..

Bolton Wanderers

Speed moved to Bolton Wanderers on a two-year deal in a £750,000 switch from Newcastle United in July 2004. He became the first player to make 500 Premier League appearances when he played in Bolton's 4–0 victory over West Ham United in December 2006.

On 1 May 2007, Speed was named as the first team coach for Bolton after Sam Allardyce stepped down from his job as manager. However, in October he left the coaching job and returned to being just a player with the club. Conflicting reports of the incident claimed then manager Sammy Lee relieved him of his duties to concentrate on playing but Speed, in an interview with the Bolton News, claimed he chose to step down.

Speed scored a header for Bolton against Reading on 25 August 2007, making him, at the time, the only player to have scored in every Premiership season to date. Ryan Giggs later matched this achievement on 20 October 2007, and passed it on 8 February 2009. It had been reported in December 2007 that Speed was a target for Derby County, but it was confirmed on 24 December 2007 that he would join Sheffield United on loan on 1 January 2008, with a view to a permanent move for a fee of about £250,000.

Sheffield United

Speed made his first team debut on the day of his transfer – being named in the starting eleven for a 0–0 away draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers on New Year's Day 2008. He played regularly for the rest of the season and deputised as captain when Chris Morgan was unavailable. Having seen his penalty parried Speed netted the rebound to score his first goal for the Blades in a victory over Coventry in March of that year. He went on to finish the season on three goals for the Blades, scoring both goals in a 2–1 home victory over Bristol City in the penultimate game of the 2007–08 season. In an interview with BBC Wales on 10 May 2008, Speed hinted that the 2008–09 season may be his last playing before moving into coaching or management but stated that he had not yet made up his mind.

Speed started the next season as a regular fixture in the Blades midfield but succumbed to a back injury in November. Despite undergoing surgery to correct the problem he failed to regain his fitness and missed the rest of the season, concentrating instead on a coaching role at the club. In June 2009, he was approached by Swansea City with regards to taking on the managerial role left vacant by Roberto Martinez.

At the end of October 2009, Speed stated that "'I'm 40, I haven't played for a year and you can take what you want from that. I'm not missing playing because I'm enjoying the other side so much", although he revealed he was still in training, in preparation for running the 2010 London Marathon in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, the cancer charity founded by Speed's former Newcastle manager, who had died on 31 July 2009 after a long battle against the illness.

Speed finally announced his retirement from playing in his 41st year, but agreed to remain at Sheffield United for at least one more season as a coach. Despite this he was again registered as a player and was named on the bench for the first round League Cup game against Hartlepool United at the outset of the following season.

International career

Speed played for Wales at youth level and earned three caps for the under-21 team. He also played 85 times for Wales, making him the second highest capped player only behind goalkeeper Neville Southall who made 92 appearences. Speed retired from international football in 2004 after the side's 3–2 defeat to Poland in a 2006 World Cup qualifier. His first appearance for the national side had come on 20 May 1990 in a 1–0 friendly win against Costa Rica at Ninian Park.

After his retirement from international football, he was recommended by both the former manager Mark Hughes and fellow Welsh midfielder Robbie Savage as a future Welsh national team manager.

Managerial career

With the 2010–11 season only three games old Sheffield United manager Kevin Blackwell was sacked with Speed being confirmed as the club's new manager on a three year contract a few days later. On 21 October 2010, Speed was given a one game touchline ban and a £2,000 fine by the Football Association for his unsupportive behaviour at the home fixture against Watford on 2 October 2010. On 11 December 2010, Speed was linked with the vacant Wales manager job. Sheffield United confirmed that they had given Speed permission to talk to the Football Association of Wales over the vacant position. He was confirmed as the new Welsh national team manager on 14 December 2010, succeeding John Toshack who stepped down in September 2010, Sheffield United released him from his contract after compensation was paid by the FAW.

Speed's first game as Wales manager was 8 February 2011 against the Republic of Ireland in the inaugural Nations Cup, which Ireland won 3–0. Speed's first competitive match was the Euro 2012 qualifier at home to England 26 March 2011 and Speed appointed twenty year old Aaron Ramsey captain, making Ramsey the youngest ever Wales captain. Wales lost to England 2–0 and in August 2011 Wales attained their lowest ever FIFA ranking of 117th. This was followed by a 2–1 home win against Montenegro, a 1–0 away loss to England, a 2–0 home win against Switzerland and a 1–0 away win against Bulgaria. Consequently in October 2011, Wales were ranked 45th in the world by FIFA. Speed's last game as manager of Wales was on 12 November 2011, a 4–1 win in a friendly match against Norway.

Death

On 27 November 2011, the Football Association of Wales announced that Speed had died. The Telegraph and ITN reported that Speed had died of suicide by hanging at his home in Huntington, Cheshire. Cheshire Constabulary announced that they were not treating Speed's death as suspicious. Friends reported their shock at the news; Speed had appeared as a guest on BBC One's Football Focus only hours before his death.

Tributes

On the day of Speed's death football was said to have "united in grief and to pay tribute to him". The news was first announced by the Football Association of Wales, who extended their sympathies and condolences to Speed's family. Throughout the day similar messages were released from many people within football as well as national figures in Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom. Prime Minister David Cameron and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband both released messages conveying their sadness at Speed's death as well as their condolences to his family. First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones released a similar message, as did Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan and Welsh Conservative Party leader Andrew RT Davies. A huge number of tributes from across football came in throughout the day for Speed. Close friends and former team-mates such as Robbie Savage, Ryan Giggs, Simon Grayson, Alan Shearer and John Hartson all expressed their deep sorrow at his death.

The match between Aston Villa and Swansea City, held only hours after Speed's death was announced, was dedicated to his memory. A minutes silence was to be held before the match. However, the fans applauded instead and sang Speed's name. Several players who played in the match had been severely affected by the news. Four Welsh internationals played in the match; Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor and Joe Allen, of Swansea, all played under Speed for Wales and Allen in particular was said to be struggling with the news. James Collins was the other Welsh international and he had also played with Speed at international level. Collins' Villa team mates Shay Given and Jermaine Jenas had both played with Speed at Newcastle United and both were very badly affected by the news. Given openly wept during and after the minutes applause. Both managers, Alex McLeish and Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to Speed. Rodgers, who had spoken to Speed a lot since he had become Wales manager, said that the game had lost a legend while Neil Taylor said that he hoped Wales could qualify for the 2014 World Cup to honour him.

Along with this match, several others saw tributes toward Speed. The only other Premier League match played that day was between Liverpool and Manchester City. Craig Bellamy was withdrawn from Liverpool's squad by Kenny Dalglish as he was too affected by news of his former teammate, at club as well as country, to play. Dalglish himself had managed Speed and expressed his sadness at the news. Saying that he thought Speed was a great footballer but also a great person. Another of Speed's former team mates, Hugo Viana paid tribute to him. The Portuguese international was another who had played alongside Speed at Newcastle. After his team, Braga, had lost 3–2 to Porto Viana displayed a shirt reading "Gary Rest in Peace"

Internationally, FIFA President Joseph Blatter paid tribute to Gary Speed as "a model professional and a fantastic ambassador for the game". Both the FIFA and Welsh flags at FIFA's headquarters were at half mast as a mark of respect.

Honours

Club

Leeds United
Newcastle United
Bolton Wanderers

Individual

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Result Competition Scored
1 12 October 1994 Republican Stadium, Chisinau  Moldova 2–3 1996 European Cup qualification 1
2 6 September 1995 National Stadium, Cardiff  Moldova 1–0 1996 European Cup qualification 1
3 29 March 1997 National Stadium, Cardiff  Belgium 1–2 1998 World Cup qualification 1
4 2 September 2000 Dynama Stadium, Minsk  Belarus 2–1 2002 World Cup qualification 1
5 20 November 2002 Tofig Bahramov Stadium, Baku  Azerbaijan 2–0 2004 European Cup qualification 1
6 29 March 2003 Millennium Stadium, Cardiff  Azerbaijan 4–0 2006 World Cup qualification 1
7 4 September 2004 Tofig Bahramov Stadium, Baku  Azerbaijan 1–1 2006 World Cup qualification 1

Career statistics

Playing statistics

Club performance
Club Division Season(s) League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Leeds United First Division /
Premier League
1988–89 to 1995–96 248 39 21 5 26 11 17 2 312 57
Everton Premier League 1996–97 to 1997–98 58 15 2 1 5 1 0 0 65 17
Newcastle United Premier League 1997–98 to 2003–04 213 29 22 5 11 1 38 5 284 40
Bolton Wanderers Premier League 2004–05 to 2007–08 121 14 6 0 4 0 8 0 139 14
Sheffield United Championship 2007–08 to 2009–10 37 6 2 0 1 0 0 0 40 6
Career totals 677 103 53 11 47 13 63 7 840 134

Managerial statistics

Team Nat From To Record
G W D L GF GA GD Win %
Sheffield United Flag of England 17 August 2010 14 December 2010 &0000000000000018.00000018 &0000000000000006.0000006 &0000000000000003.0000003 &0000000000000009.0000009 &0000000000000015.00000015 &0000000000000024.00000024 −9 &0000000000000033.33000033.33
Wales Flag of Wales 14 December 2010 27 November 2011 &0000000000000010.00000010 &0000000000000005.0000005 &-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1.0000000 &0000000000000005.0000005 &0000000000000013.00000013 &0000000000000013.00000013 +0 &0000000000000050.00000050.00
Total &0000000000000028.00000028 &0000000000000011.00000011 &0000000000000003.0000003 &0000000000000014.00000014 &0000000000000028.00000028 &0000000000000037.00000037 −9 &0000000000000039.29000039.29

External links

Sheffield United Football Club - Managers

Wostinholms (1889–99) · Nicholsons (1899–1932) · Davison (1932–52) · Freeman (1952–55) · Mercer (1955–58) · Clarkc (1958–59) · Harris (1959–68) · Rowley (1968–69) · Harris (1969–73) · Furphy (1973–75) · Coldwellc (1975) · Sirrel (1975–77) · Coldwellc (1977–78) · Haslam (1978–81) · Peters (1981) · Porterfield (1981–86) · McEwan (1986–88) · Bassett (1988–95) · Kendall (1995–97) · Spackman (1997–98) · Sladec (1998) · Thompsonc (1998) · Bruce (1998–99) · Heath (1999) · Sladec (1999) · Warnock (1999–2007) · Robson (2007–08) · Blackwell (2008–10) · Speed (2010) · Carverc (2010) · Adams (2010–11) · Wilson (2011–13) · Morganc (2013) · Weir (2013) · Morganc (2013) · Clough (2013–15) · Adkins (2015–16) · Wilder (2016–)

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