Wales manager Gary Speed dies at 42
Gary Speed, who became Wales’ soccer coach just 11 months ago
after playing for his country a record 85 times, has died. He was
The Football Association of Wales announced Speed’s death Sunday
without giving the cause. Police said there were no suspicious
circumstances surrounding Speed’s death.
Speed is survived by his wife and two children.
”We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family,” the
FAW said in a statement. ”We ask that everyone respects the
family’s privacy at this very sad time.”
Speed, whose 85 caps is a Welsh record for an outfield player,
had only become Wales coach in December in a move that had long
been predicted by former teammates and commentators. Only
goalkeeper Neville Southall, with 92 appearances, played more games
Last year, Queen Elizabeth II gave Speed the Member of the
British Empire award in her annual Birthday Honors list for his
services to soccer.
”Just cannot believe the news regarding Gary Speed. We waved at
each other a couple of days ago dropping our kids off at school.
I’m numb,” Manchester United striker Michael Owen wrote on
Twitter. ”He has died aged 42. So sad. He lived local to me and we
knew his family. He leaves behind 2 sons. Tragic.”
Admired for his dedication, fitness and consistency in a 20-year
playing career – as well as a knack for goals – Speed started out
with Leeds and won the English league championship with the club in
Moving on to Everton and then Newcastle, Speed became the first
player to play in 500 Premier League games and held the record with
535 until it was surpassed by goalkeeper David James in 2009. Ryan
Giggs has also since passed the mark.
Speed scored in every topflight season in which he played until
dropping out of the Premier League in 2008 when he joined Sheffield
With injuries finally beginning to affect him, Speed became a
coach at Sheffield United and formally retired from playing at the
end of the 2009-10 season. He became Blades manager early in the
following season but was soon approached by Wales after John
Toshack resigned as coach.
Speed led the team to five wins in 10 matches, including a 4-1
victory over Norway two weeks ago, earning praise for Wales’ style
of play and emphasis on youth.
”We’ve got talent in abundance and I’m fortunate to be in that
position,” Speed said after the Nov. 12 win in Cardiff. ”We are
building for the future. There is still a lot of improving to be
done but we are going in the right direction.”