In an incident that has shocked football, Wales manager Gary Speed has been found dead at the age of 42 – appearing to have hanged himself at his home in Cheshire.
Former teammates and managers including Robbie Savage, Ryan Giggs, and Howard Wilkinson have emotionally paid tribute to a man universally recognised as a model pro, and expressed their dismay at the unexpected nature of his death.
It was only yesterday that Speed had appeared on the BBC to guest on Football Focus, and presenter Dan Walker took to Twitter to state his disbelief: ‘Gary was full of life yesterday talking about his kids, bright future with Wales, Twitter, golf. Can’t get my head round it. So sad.’
A minute’s silence was held before Premier League games on Sunday to remember Wales second most capped player – with 85 – and one of the most respected young managers in football. His former teammate Shay Given was seen breaking into tears following the remembrance at Swansea v Aston Villa, and close friend, Craig Bellamy – who’d played with and under Speed – was excused from the Liverpool squad to face Man City.
The news comes at a time when the subject of depression is in the spotlight following the attempted suicide before a Bundesliga game of German referee Babak Rafati, and Stan Collymore’s much publicised account of a recent bout of depression.
The incident once again shows that despite the wealth and perceived comfortable lifestyles of footballers, they are still human beings susceptible to the same problems as everyone else, despite outer appearances.
Hopefully once the initial shock dissipates that won’t be forgotten.
By Peter Simpson