Gary Speed R.I.P: 8 September 1969 – 27 November 2011
To hear that Gary Speed is dead at 42 and may have committed suicide is just one of the most shocking things I have ever heard. RIP to the Wales manager.
The statement above was my immediate reaction after the news broke on BBC Radio 5Live on Sunday afternoon. In 35 years working in the media I can’t remember a piece of news that has come as more of a shock.
Twenty four hours later as genuine heart-felt tributes continue to pour in from around the world I am still numb with disbelief.
The events leading up to the tragic end to Speed’s life and the comments from the friends and colleagues who were in contact with him only highlight why this is such a shock
Poignantly Gary Speed was in high spirits and showed no signs of anything being wrong in his life, when he appeared as a guest on the BBC’s Football Focus show on Saturday with host Dan Walker.
Just 24 hours later Walker tweeted: ‘Staggered by the news of Gary Speed’s death. Was with him for most of yesterday. I genuinely cannot believe it. Thoughts with his family.’
Speed – who was also appearing with Gary McAllister on the show – told Walker that there was nothing like playing football.
Gary Speed was a role-model, who was universally liked and respected by everyone in the game and everyone he came into contact with. I have met many footballers in my life in the media, and none more likeable and genuine than Gary Speed.