Like all Leeds United fans, and the wider football community as a whole, it was with great shock and sadness that I received news of Gary Speed’s death earlier today.

A fans favourite at Elland Road, Gary Speed will always be remembered as a club legend for the invaluable contribution he made towards the 1989/90 Championship and 1991/92 Premier League winning Leeds United side.

The Footballing World Mourns

Former Leeds United manager Howard Wilkinson; “The players I worked with represented all colours of the rainbow in terms of character but in Gary’s case he was a star in the true sense. For him – at 42 – to leave us is such a tragic loss.

“He had a life of success to look forward to I’m sure.”

“It’s unbelievable, I’m still struggling to get my head around it. I’ve known Gary since 1988 when I joined Leeds and I’ve rarely come across a better balanced, lovely, genuine person.

“He was a terrific player – not as gifted as some but he made the most of everything he had – worst of all for me I knew his parents, in particular his dad, his lovely wife and family – I just find it very very difficult to come to terms with it.

“I cannot start to try and understand what his family are going through at this time.

“We’re not born footballers and like everyone else they had a talent and that became their job, but basically they are born people and subject to all the stress and strains and the good things that happen to one in life.”

Current Leeds United manager Simon Grayson; “It is an unbelievably sad day, Speedo was a true friend and a very, very popular man. Our sympathies are with Louise, his children, his dad, and all his family.”

“We signed on the same day and played in the youth and reserve teams together. We also did all our coaching badges together. He was a good friend and this is a very sad day. Gary was such a popular person and this is a hard time for everybody.”

Former team mate Tony Dorigo via Twitter; “”I’m completely shocked and saddened. A great guy and a better team-mate you couldn’t wish for. Speedo, RIP mate.”

Everton CEO Robert Eldstone; “Gary was a popular player during his time here at Goodison Park and on behalf of the Board of Directors, management, players, staff and fans of Everton I would like to extend our sympathies to his family at this extremely difficult time.”

Statement from Sheffield United; “”Everybody at Sheffield United is extremely shocked and saddened to learn of the death of former player and manager Gary Speed. Thoughts are with Gary’s family and friends at this distressing time.”

Statement from Newcastle United; “The board, manager, staff and players of Newcastle United FC are today deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Gary Speed.

“Gary was an inspirational and much-loved player at Newcastle United during his time with the club from 1998 to 2004, making 285 appearances and scoring 40 goals.

“He was an excellent servant to the club, the ultimate professional, and an exceptional role model for younger players. Gary will be deeply missed by everyone at Newcastle United. Our condolences go out to his family at this very sad time.”

Former team mate Alan Shearer; “Gary was a magnificent person, bright, fun and a wonderful family man – he lit up every room he walked into. I am proud to have been his friend and will miss him dreadfully.”

Former team mate Stephen Taylor; “It is a sad, sad day. I played with him when I came through the ranks,He helped me through, he was an absolute machine – the best professional in football. He had that aura about him. He always had time for the young lads and helped them feel good about themselves.”

Former International team mate Ryan Giggs; “Words cannot begin to describe how sad I feel at hearing this awful news. I’m totally devastated. Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate.”

Elsewhere, a genuinely heartfelt tribute from Robbie Savage summed up the mood, as close friend Shay Given struggled to fight back tears at The Liberty Stadium.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg. Tributes are pouring in by the minute to a model professional whose success was based upon the extraordinary amount of effort he put in to maintaining an incredibly high level of fitness.

The sheer abundance of tributes stands testament to how universally well liked Gary was, and how devastated people are by the news.

I’m sure I speak on behalf of Leeds United fans everywhere when I say my deepest sympathies are with his friends and family tonight.

Whilst it may be small comfort at this moment in time, I hope Gary’s family know just how much joy his career brought to so many. On a personal level, I was still a youngster when Gary was making a name for himself at Elland Road and he was someone I truly idolised.

Gary was the perfect role model for my generation, the greatest example of how far hard work can take you. There’s no denying he had natural talent, but it was the hard work he put in to nurturing that talent that made him stand out from the crowd.

In death, Gary Speed will be remembered as a Leeds United legend, his name forever associated with only the greatest players this club has produced, and that’s nothing less than he deserves.

One of the greatest, most hard-working players I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing personally, whose contribution to our football club will never be forgotten.

RIP Gary. Marching On Forever.

30 Responses

  1. Tyler75

    As a lifelong Leeds fan and a proud North Walian, Gary Speed was a double inspiration. He will never be forgotten as part of one the best midfield quartets in the modern game. The dynamism and vigour he brought to his own football was replicating itself with the Welsh national team – the respect and esteem those young players held him in, speaks volumes.

    RIP, MOT and Diolch yn fawr Gary Speed.

  2. Colin

    Why? Just why? So sad.

    This is a dark day for me as a Leeds United fan. He helped us win the title and was part of the best midfield anyone’s ever seen in England – Gary McAllister, Gordon Strachan, David Batty, Gary Speed.

    We need to find out why this happened and make sure it NEVER, EVER, happens again.

    Gary, Good night, God bless. Sleep well.

  3. JamesLeeds72

    I’m devastated. Loved Speed.
    Even when he signed for Everton I still put his posters up on my wall

  4. leedsusa

    Unfortunately Colin it happens, sad day indeed compounded by the fact in my case that is 3 years to the day my Uncle did the very same thing..RIP

  5. WIll23

    Like all, I am deeply shocked and saddened by the news of Speedo’s death and today it is a struggle to understand why this happened.

    He was, and will always be, a footballing legend of the modern era – the model pro, someone who made the most of his talent, someone we can all learn from in whatever our day to day job is: setting our own high standards by which we should, like Gary Speed, inspire other people around us to be the best we can be in all that we do.

    He appeared to be on the threshhold of developing a respected & successful managerial career, already possessing the great respect of his peers, elders and those who followed in his footsteps and who looked up to him. The comments from his fellow pros today have all been so very touching indicating the high regard and esteem everyone had for him.

    To all his family and close friends, I pass on my deepest sympathy on this very sad day indeed.

    Gary Speed, a diamond. Rest in peace.

  6. Tbone1

    No one can deny the talent Gary speed had or the contribution he gave as a Leeds utd player. I remember him as one of the greats of Leeds utd and I don’t say that lightly but any man, I don’t care who he is goes down in my estimation a little bit if they can take their own life when they have children. That said, RIP Gary

    • TSS

      @Tbone1 I know what you’re saying, but depressed people don’t act with rationality. It’s an illness like any other. The problem is, the symptoms are sometimes easy to hide and it can go unnoticed. I don’t want to delve too deeply into speculation, but I think the depression was the cause here.

  7. Pete Sasqwax

    I’m absolutely devastated by the loss of Speedo. I remember seeing him make his debut at Elland Road and go on to be the kind of player you root for long after he’s left the club, regardless of what shirt he wears. I remember lining up at Elland Road to get his autograph after training on a number of occasions (I used to get the club calendar signed each year as my dad had a business on Elland Road so I’d spend a lot of the summer down there watching the lads). I can’t help but try to do the impossible and get my head around why on Earth such a fantastic person and talent would take his own life. I was only yesterday reminiscing with my old man about how incredible he was alongside Gary Mac, Batts & the wee man &, when we discussed who would be a likely candidate to follow Larry when he inevitably moves on, Speedo & Strachan were the first names on my lips. The world seems somehow cold and without joy today after such a terrible loss. RIP-Pete Sasqwax

  8. number1inyorkshire

    Gary speed was was a genuine leeds united legend and as colin said was part of 1 of the best midfields that English football has seen .an integral part of our midfield that dominated the league to win it .

    i suggest that a lot of people that post on here cut their teeth watching that team ,and his part in that team can never be over over stated .and when the leeds united museum opens there will be plenty of gary in there .

    gary speed was also a leeds fan .

    today leeds united have lost a true legend and so has football in general his appearances in the top flight say everything about the man .

    he was part of my personal favourit era of watching leeds united and for that reason its a very ,very sad day i am sure everyone at leeds united fan base sends sympathy to his family and friends .

    his talent at leeds will never be forgotten and i am sure one day gary speed would have been our manager

    fond memories on this sad day

  9. mojoluafc

    The team should wear the black kit for the millwall game, would show what he meant to LUAFC.

  10. Gryff

    Absolutely shocked by this.

    He was a great player, he seemed to be a great guy. He looked in the prime of life and my heart goes out to his wife and kids who must be utterly devastated.

    Two years ago Robert Enke, just a week ago Babak Rafati, now Gary Speed…

    It’s hard to comprehend…

    Let’s hope that whatever was wrong, we can use this tragedy to help other people in similar situations.

    R.I.P Gary Speed.

  11. saltburnwhite

    life is so unfair , its unpredictable and volatile , gary speed was the VERY last person i would have expected to do this , it just shows you that , even all that money cant bring you ultimate happiness , treasure every day and live your life to the fullest because it is a gift .

    RIP Gary god speed xx

  12. Ray

    So upsetting such a loss to the whole footballing world. Just doesn’t make sense, hope you have a kick about up there speed rip.

  13. DubaiWhite

    Gary Speed represtented the true spirit of Leeds United; a genuine team player with absolute loyalty that always gave 100% for this club. Speedo has a place in my LUFC Hall of Fame, being one of the cornerstones of one of the best midfields we every had in the league winning side of 1991/92. Gary you were a role model and will always be remembered as one of our greats.

    RIP Speedo

  14. Ron_Galea

    I can’t add anything more, but I hope we get promoted this year as a tribute to one of the greatest whites. We could really do with some of his mettle and enthusiasm.

  15. Dje

    Anyone know why we are singing Gary Speed’s name for ELEVEN minutes from the ELEVENTH minute onwards at Notts Forest tomorrow night? I like the commitment and sentiment and respect and all, but wondered why ’11’?

    Was he our number ’11’ back in the day? [Sorry, sad to say that I can’t recall how many times I saw him play for us, but I’m shit at remembering current player’s shirt numbers, let alone old boys].

  16. Pete Sasqwax

    yes mate – he wore 11 for us and, in the time I’ve been watching us at least, he was the best player to ever wear the no. 11 shirt.

  17. Pete Sasqwax

    those of you who remember Speedo playing for us in that incredible midfield – can you remember how we used to play at home? from the very first minute we were lively, energetic and right up in the faces of the opposition. we worked like mad to get the ball from them and once we’d gotten it, made sure that every pass counted – balls to feet, possession possession possession. I’m not suggesting that we necessarily have the quality of that midfield at our disposal now (nor am I knocking the lads currently manning the midfield) but there is no reason why we shouldn’t still be playing like that. somewhere along the line we’ve lost our way. the players we had in the side there – with chapman and davison up front, sterland, whyte, fairclough & dorigo at the back – alongside that incredible midfield were not the best players in their positions available at the time. most of those lads were not internationals, they were not coveted by other clubs etc. but they had one thing (which our current team seems to like lack) in abundance: team spirit. I’m not suggesting Larry has “lost the dressing room” – if that were the case, one could suggest that he never had it because this is not something that has been a recent occurence. those of us who watched that side (not to mention numerous great Leeds sides before that) are hurt by displays such as the one on saturday. not pointing fingers, not shouting “this person out” or “that person out” – genuinely hurt and thoroughly let down by the lack of passion and cohesive team play those who currently wear the shirt often show. I am pointing no fingers, nor am I seeking to make scapegoats out of individuals. all I’m saying is that this would NEVER have been allowed to happen at any point in the history of the club (that I am aware of) without it being viewed as a disgrace to the fans and the club and a disgrace to those incredible players who have worn in previous years. yes, players like Gary Speed. players like Batts, Strachan & Gary Mac. (cont)

  18. Pete Sasqwax

    (continued from previous post) did anyone hear Strachan on Radio 5 this morning? he spoke of telling young players to be like Gary Speed because, when he first arrived on the scene, he was NOT the most gifted of footballers. he wasn’t a star in waiting, he was a decent pro, at best, but what made him the absolute legend he undoubtedly went on to become was the way in which he constantly applied himself to improve all aspects of his game. first on the training pitch, last to leave mentality. how many of those do we have now? it may be a larger aspect of the game now as a whole, I don’t know, but, to be frank, I don’t CARE about the game as a whole anywhere near as much as I care about LEEDS UNITED AFC. there are some great lads pulling on the shirt nowadays – players who could without question go on to be legends just like Speedo, Strachan, Batts etc. – and the fact that we turn out performances like we have done on saturday (and on so many occasions in recent years) absolutely sickens and disgusts me. MOT

  19. mattbb1

    Gary Speed is one of Leeds’ greats. He represented as per what Strachan and Wilkinson said the triumph of hard work, professionalism and team play. To me Leeds need to rediscover this, and this is a timely message to anyone involved in the club, top to bottom. I’d urge for example the likes of Andy O’Brien to drop whatever issues he has and reaffirm his loyalty to our great club. 1992, and 1990 represent what leeds can achieve at their best, we need not to be nostalgic about this, but learn from it. Are our players the best in the championship? some are but not all, but if they all gave 100% like Gary Speed, Strachan, Batty, McAllister, Chapman, Dorigo, Fairclough, Wallace, Whyte and Kelly we will walk out of this decision, and walk out of it we must, not come 2nd or get in through the play offs. Go out there tonight lads and decimate Nottingham Forest for us all.

  20. Coups

    I remember watching Speedo as a 9 year old in my first season at Elland Road in 95-96. On the back of a 6-2 hiding away at Sheffield Wednesday we played Man Utd at Elland Road on Christmas Eve. 1-0 up and Speedo got caught with the ball as he tried to dribble out of his own box, from which Andy cole equalised. The manner in which he gave his all after his mistake, a great run and shot on his weaker right foot which was inches wide – epitomises the character of the man. While others would have hidden, he put himself on the line, worked his socks off and set up the 3rd goal a great cross on a plate for Brian Deane to nod past Schmichael. Never forget you speedo, still never understood why we sold you at the time in exchange for Lee Sharpe, but then again Wilkinson was losing the plot and we had Ian Rush upfront that season as well… R.I.P mate.


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