Gary Speed Tribute – Tributes continued to flood in for Gary Speed on Monday as European football reacted with shock and sadness to the suicide of one of its most popular figures.
The FIFA and Welsh flags were both at half mast at the Swiss headquarters of the ruling body FIFA as a mark of respect for the 42-year-old Wales manager, who was found dead at his home on Sunday, having apparently hanged himself.
‘Gary Speed was a hugely talented player and a great servant for both club and country who will be greatly missed. He will always be remembered as a model professional and a fantastic ambassador for the game,’ said FIFA president Joseph Blatter in a letter to the Welsh FA posted on the FIFA website.
‘I would like to offer my deepest condolences on behalf of FIFA and the worldwide family of football to you, the Football Association of Wales, his wife Louise and their two sons, as well as Gary Speed’s friends and family.’
Former team-mates and managers also paid tribute to Speed, who played 535 Premier League games and won 85 Wales caps before taking over as manager last year.
‘Sometimes you have an indication that something is wrong but this one came right out of the blue,’ said Gordon Strachan, who played with Speed at Leeds United.
‘I’ve never known of such grief and loss,’ the Players Football Association chairman Gordon Taylor told Sky Sports News.
Fans have left scarves and tributes at the home grounds of his former clubs, Leeds, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United, but Taylor suggested a more formal tribute would be arranged.
‘He was so popular, so friendly and I never heard a bad word about him,’ Taylor said. ‘A real light has gone out in the football world.
A spokesman for British prime minister David Cameron said on Sunday he was ‘deeply saddened’ by Speed’s death and said his thoughts were with the family.