Light goes out with Speed death
Gareth Bale hopes Wales can honour Gary Speed by continuing the improvement they made under him.
Former Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United midfielder Speed died at his home on the outskirts of Chester on Sunday, with police saying there were no suspicious circumstances.
Friends, team-mates and colleagues queued up to pay their respects to Speed in the aftermath and Wales and Tottenham winger Bale was eager to join them.
"It was a massive shock, I don’t think anybody ever thought anything like this would happen," Bale told tottenhamhotspur.com. "Everyone is devastated and it is a massive loss to everyone in football.
"It is a tragedy, everyone still can’t get their head around it and all our condolences go out to his family and his kids. It is a hard time."
Speed had revitalised Welsh fortunes after taking over last December, overseeing a recent run of four wins in five games that had raised hopes they could launch a genuine bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
"We were on the up, he changed the way we play and the whole mentality of our game," Bale said. "It is a massive loss, but we will try and carry on the best we can in his honour."
Cheshire Police said on Monday the inquest into Speed’s death will be opened at Warrington Coroner’s Court on Tuesday at 3pm.
Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor suggested there was an appetite within his organisation for a public recognition of the late Wales manager.
"He was so popular, so friendly and I never heard a bad word about him," he told Sky Sports News. "A real light has gone out in the football world.
"There will be an overwhelming sense that we want do something together to show how loved and regarded he was in the football world."
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce also paid tribute to Speed, both as a player and a person.
"I was fortunate to take Gary to Bolton," Allardyce told BBC Radio Five Live. "At that stage he was a young 34 and most people were saying he was getting past it, but in actual fact his stats were absolutely outstanding."
He added: "His life was about standards, he had a high standard for everything that he did. To sum it up, if you had a daughter and she brought Gary Speed home you’d be delighted."
Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford hailed Speed’s influence on the national team since becoming manager in December last year.
"When we went through the selection process Gary wasn’t necessarily the most experienced manager there, but he had some fantastic qualities," Ford said.
"He was a true professional, a fantastic gentleman and he got the players where they wanted to be, they wanted to play for him and it wasn’t just players – it was the fans, the staff, everybody around him. It’s such a sad loss.
"I was with him at the draw (for World Cup qualifying) and we looked at each other when each of those teams came out and agreed every one of those matches was winnable.
"The future was bright, the last few games were packed with positivity. We were on a roll and there was a great optimism about the place that the team had a fantastic opportunity to qualify for 2014."
Gordon Strachan, who starred alongside Speed, Gary McAllister and David Batty in a Leeds midfield which was the foundation of a 1991-92 First Division title win, said he was stunned by the news.
He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "People have problems in footy where you have an indication that something is wrong, but this one is right out of the blue.
"I trained beside him for six years at Leeds and I was proud of Gary Speed every time I saw him play or train."
Everton manager David Moyes and chairman Bill Kenwright both paid their tributes to Speed, who was at Goodison Park from 1996 to 1998.
Moyes, who became manager in 2002, told evertonfc.com: "Gary was a great servant to Everton during his time at Goodison and myself and the rest of the squad were as shocked as the rest of the footballing world when we heard the news."
Kenwright, who has been on the board at Everton since 1984, added: "Gary was everything a footballer should aspire to be."