Football Pays Respect To ‘Gentleman’ Speed

December 3rd, 20115:05 pm @


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2:54pm UK, Saturday December 03, 2011

Footballers and fans are paying tribute to Wales manager Gary Speed this weekend with a minute’s applause at every Premier League match.

The former Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United player was found hanged at his home on the outskirts of Cheshire last Sunday.

The 42-year-old sportsman, who was part of Leeds’ championship winning team in 1992, is thought to have taken his own life.

His widow Louise, who made the discovery, joined 30,000 fans for an emotional tribute at the club’s Elland Road ground ahead of their match against Millwall.

Speed‘s former midfield colleagues Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty stood on the pitch and laid wreaths.

Outside the stadium, thousands of shirts, scarves and other memorabilia have been draped around the statue of Leeds United legend Billy Bremner.

Mrs Speed came out of the ground just before half-time to inspect the masses of tributes with other members of her family for around 10-15 minutes.

One Leeds fan, Stuart Wright, said: “It’s just so sad. Everyone wants to just be here and pay tribute to a true gentleman of the game.”

Diane Crowther, from Morley, said: “He was just a legend.”

Gary Speed's widow was at the match between Leeds and Millwall

Gary Speed’s widow Louise (centre) was at the Leeds game

At Newcastle’s St James’ Park ground, there were tears during a minute’s applause before the Magpies’ match against Chelsea.

Newcastle had planned a tribute to Speed today but they have now postponed it at Mrs Speed’s request.

Their tribute will now take place before their next home game against Swansea on Saturday, December 17, which Mrs Speed is also expected to attend.

Newcastle had planned to have Welsh tenor Gwyn Hughes lead a capacity crowd of 52,000 in the hymn ‘Bread of Heaven’ before a minute’s applause.

Supporters in the East Stand were also to have been provided with black and white cards with the number 11, the shirt number Speed wore during his spell on Tyneside.

Speed made 285 appearances and scored 40 goals for the Magpies during a six-and-a-half-year spell with the club.

Newcastle United players take part in a minute's applause in tribute to Gary Speed

Newcastle United players take part in a minute’s applause in tribute to Gary Speed

Everton will remember a gentleman and a dedicated professional when they pay tribute to Speed, manager David Moyes said.

A number of Speed’s former team-mates will be at Goodison Park on Sunday to take part in a minute’s applause ahead of the clash with Stoke.

Speed played more than 50 games for Everton between 1996 and 1998.

He became the first footballer to play in 500 Premier League games in December 2006 during his time at Bolton (2004-2008).

Gary Speed

Gary Speed was found dead at his home

Speed held the record with 535 until it was surpassed by goalkeeper David James in 2009. Ryan Giggs has also since passed the mark.

He played for Wales between 1990 and 2004, and was their most capped outfield player and second highest overall behind goalkeeper Neville Southall. He scored seven goals in 85 appearances for his country.

Leeds fans show their respects for the late Gary Speed during the npower Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Leeds United

A young Leeds fan pays tribute to Speed

Speed scored in every top-flight season in which he played until dropping out of the Premier League in 2008 when he joined Sheffield United.

He scored a total of 103 league goals in 677 appearances.

Meanwhile, Robbie Savage is to dedicate his performance in this weekend’s Strictly Come Dancing to his late friend.

Savage, a former team-mate of Speed’s on the national squad, said he was finding it hard to focus on rehearsing this week because of the upset.

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