Monday, 28 November 2011

Bellamy Rested After Speed Death

Wales international Craig Bellamy was rested for match between Liverpool and Manchester City on Sunday after manager Kenny Dalglish decided he was too upset following the death of his close friend Gary Speed.

Dalglish said it was a decision he had taken after they were informed that Wales manager Speed had been found dead at his home earlier on Sunday aged 42.

"It was a decision I decided to take on Craig's behalf," said Dalglish, who signed Speed when he was manager of Newcastle United.

"It is devastating and it might be a cliche but these things make football rather secondary.

"I felt that Bellas - who was really close to Gary - would not be in the frame of mind to play."

Dalglish, reflecting on Speed, said: "He was a smashing lad and was really well respected.

"We don't know the circumstances obviously, and there'll be a lot of people who are saddened at what's happened, but I think the most important people at this particular moment in time is his wife and kids - they must be absolutely devastated.

"It's at times like this that the football becomes a wee bit irrelevant.

"He was a very respected man in and around football, not only for his ability but for the guy as a person.

"I signed Gary for £5 million from Everton and he did a fantastic job for us at Newcastle, during the time I was there and after I'd left as well."

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.

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."

Dean Saunders recalled Speed's dedication and professionalism.

"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," Saunders told BBC Radio Five Live.

Alan Shearer, who spent six years with Speed at Newcastle, is grieving over the loss of a bright personality whose company everyone enjoyed.

"Gary was a magnificent person, bright, fun and a wonderful family man - he lit up every room he walked into," he said.

"I am proud to have been his friend and will miss him dreadfully."

Rob Lee, who played alongside Speed at Newcastle, remembered a man who was as influential off the pitch as he was on it.

"He was always great to be around, the life and soul of the party, and a good friend," he said.

England and Manchester United striker Michael Owen saw Speed only last week as the two lived close to each other.

"Just cannot believe the news regarding Gary Speed," he wrote on Twitter.

"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 two sons. Tragic."

Speed's former clubs - Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United - spoke warmly of Speed as they gave their reaction to the news.

Leeds manager Simon Grayson, who was an apprentice with Speed at Elland Road, shared a long history with a man he held in high regard.

"Speedo was a true friend and a very, very popular man," he told the club website.

"Our sympathies are with Louise, his children, his dad, and all his family.

"We signed on the same day and played in the youth and reserve teams together.

"We also did all our coaching badges together. He was a good friend and this is a very sad day."

There was also a tribute from Prime Minister David Cameron.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Gary Speed, who was greatly respected by football fans across the country both as a player and manager.

"The prime minister's thoughts are with his family and friends on this very sad day for fans everywhere, especially in Wales."