Gary Speed: gone but not forgotten

by Martin Lindsay

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Two days on and the football world is still trying, and failing, to come to terms with the loss of a legend.

Sunday’s shocking news on the sudden death of Wales manager Gary Speed brought the country to a stand-still. Since the announcement there has been an endless amount of tributes for the 42 year old husband and father, showing just how much he meant to not only football, but the UK itself.

Yet to be confirmed by the Premier League, all of this weekend’s top flight games are set to hold a minute’s applause before kick off in honour of one of English football’s true greats.

‘Scarves for Speedo’ is how Newcastle fans plan to pay tribute to their former number 11. The Toon Army will wave scarves in the eleventh minute of Saturday’s game with Chelsea as their tribute to a man that gave his all every time he donned the black and white shirt.

For me it was an honour to support a team of which Speed gave six years of his career to. After signing for Newcastle from Everton in 1998 Speed was integral in the Magpies’ rise from the relegation zone to the Champions League under Sir Bobby Robson.

His performances under Robson not only epitomised everything that specific Newcastle team were about, he was also the perfect advert for the English game as a whole. With a fantastic left foot he was composed on the ball, a physical presence, had an eye for goal and was always one of the biggest aerial threats from set pieces.

It was a pleasure to watch him. It seemed he loved Newcastle and we loved him.

Not only was he a leader on the pitch but it’s clear he was a mentor off it. Under Robson Newcastle had a core of experienced players in the form of Speed, Alan Shearer and Shay Given. All three taught Robson’s self-named ‘young guns’ how to conduct themselves as footballers but also as individuals, and for that players like Shola Ameobi, Jermaine Jenas and Hugo Viana will be eternally grateful.

After avidly supporting Speed whilst in the stands at St James’ Park, it was an absolute honour to meet him on a professional level during his time as Sheffield United manager. I was in the awaiting press room following his side’s 1-0 win at Millwall in November last season. Calm, polite and well-spoken, he was a man clearly admired by a press pack who had presumably met him on numerous occasions before.

However, for all the media attention this devastating news has brought, it must also be remembered a family is deeply suffering and their privacy must be respected.

We all know the demands of editors for the best scoop on a country’s main headline, but in this devastating instance human nature should surely out-weigh the need to sell newspapers.

The country is mourning a footballing legend, but a family is mourning a loved one. Please allow them to greave in peace while above them Gary Speed sadly rests in peace.

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  • Matt

    A legend and one of the Premier Leagues finest professionals.
    RIP Gary Speed

  • Jalderslade

    “In the zone. Like Garry Speed” A legend on the filed. Rest in peace.

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