Sunday, 27 November 2011

Gary Speed 1969 - 2011

The Football Association of Wales have announced that national team coach Gary Speed has died at the age of 42.

The FAW have called for respect to be shown to Speed's family at what is obviously a very sad time.

No details have been released regarding the cause of death.

"The Football Association of Wales are sad to announce the death of the national team manager Gary Speed," read a statement released on the FAW's official website.

"We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family.

"We ask that everyone respects the family's privacy at this very sad time."

Speed represented Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United during his playing days and made 85 appearances for Wales.

He won the First Division title during his time with Leeds and was the first man to make 500 appearances in the Premier League.

He moved into coaching at Bramall Lane in 2010, before being handed the Welsh national team reins in December 2010.

Speed was was also awarded the Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2010.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: "At 7.08am this morning, Sunday 27 November, police were informed of an incident at Aldford Road, Huntington.

"Officers went to the scene where a 42-year-old man was found dead. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and next of kind have been informed."

Speed won 85 caps for his country during a 14-year international career.

He was given the top job in Welsh football despite only having four months managerial experience.

Speed began his playing career at Leeds United after coming through the trainee ranks, and was part of the side that won the last Football League title in 1992, before the introduction of the Premier League.

A Leeds spokesman said the club was "stunned and saddened" by the news.

He was handed his Wales debut as a 20-year-old in the 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica in May 1990.

He left Leeds in 1996 after 312 appearances to join Everton - who he went on to captain - in a £3.5m move.

Newcastle followed, in a £5.5m switch in 1998. During his six years with the Magpies, he suffered two FA Cup final defeats, but enjoyed a taste of Champions League football.

He then spent four years with Bolton Wanderers after agreeing a £750,000 move.

Speed became the first player to reach 500 Premier League appearances.

He retired from international duty in 2004, having scored seven goals and captaining his country 44 times.

Speed's final appearance came in 3-2 World Cup qualifying defeat by Poland in October 2004.

His tally of 85 caps is a record for an outfield player.

Speed had appeared on BBC Football Focus on Saturday with Gary McAllster and presenter Dan Walker.