Wales legend Gary Speed found dead

Wales manager Gary Speed has been found dead at his family home in Chester, police have confirmed.

The body of the 42-year-old former Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United midfielder was discovered on Sunday morning.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death.

Speed, who was awarded the MBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours for his services to football, leaves a wife and two children.

A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said: "At 7.08am today, Cheshire Police was informed of a sudden death at an address in Huntington, Chester.

"Officers went to the scene where a 42-year-old man was found dead. The next of kin have been informed and have confirmed the identity of the man as Gary Speed.

"There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. The family have requested that they are left in peace to grieve at this difficult time. A family tribute will be released at a later date but not today."

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) earlier broke the news in a statement.

"The Football Association of Wales are sad to announce the death of the national team manager Gary Speed," read an FAW statement.

Gone too soon: Former Leeds and Newcastle United standout Gary Speed found dead at the age of 42. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)  

"We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family."

The Football Associations of England and Wales also paid their own tributes to Speed, whose death was announced shortly before Swansea’s Barclays Premier League clash with Aston Villa at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon.

With a number of players from both sides closely connected to Speed, there was speculation the match might be called off – but in the event it went ahead as planned.

A minute’s silence was announced as two sides lined up on the field, which quickly gave way to a spontaneous round of applause and chants of "there’s only one Gary Speed" inside the Liberty Stadium.

Four members of the national squad were set to feature in the starting line-ups, with Ashley Williams, Neil Taylor and Joe Allen named in Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea side, while James Collins started for the visitors.

Villa manager Alex McLeish said that he would have had no complaints if the match had been called off, with members of his squad among the hardest hit by the news.

"There’s three of them – James Collins is a Wales international, Shay Given is very close to Gary, and Jermaine Jenas played with Gary for a while at Newcastle, so these boys are very upset about this," McLeish told Sky Sports.

"We would have fully understood if Swansea had wanted to call the game off, absolutely. We’d have backed that if they wanted it off, but I think the proximity of it – TV cameras, policing, all that stuff – makes it difficult. That’s what I’m hearing anyway."

Speed had been in charge of Wales since December 2010, and had recently presided over a run of four wins in five internationals to climb to 50th in the world rankings.

He made his international debut in 1990 and went on to win 85 caps for his country – a record for an outfield player. He was captain of the national side prior to his international retirement in 2004.

Robbie Savage, who played alongside Speed for Wales, said on his Twitter account: "The world has lost a great man in Gary Speed. I’m devastated spoke to him yesterday morning why! Why. Why.

"He come to watch strictly 3/4 weeks ago. I high fived him in the front row he loved the show, he loved life he loved his family. Devastated.

"He was upbeat on phone yesterday we were laughing together, talking football and dancing. He was a great teammate and a great friend £RIP."

Speed’s greatest moment at club level came in 1992 when he won the championship with Leeds, while he was twice an FA Cup runner-up with Newcastle.

Speed enjoyed a 22-year professional career which saw him make nearly 700 league appearances. He also held the record of most Premier League appearances with 535 until 2009 when goalkeeper David James overtook him.

He retired from playing in 2010 before embarking on his first managerial role with Sheffield United.

Former Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson, who managed the 1992 title-winning side, hailed Speed as a "star in the true sense".

Wilkinson told Five Live: "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."