Gary Speed, Wales Manager Found Dead

Gary Speed

Wales Manager Gary Speed Found Dead

The Football Association realeased a statement today stating: 'It is with great sadness that The FA has learned of the passing of Gary Speed. The thoughts of everybody at The FA are with his family and friends at this time. Gary had many friends at The FA, who are truly saddened by this news.'

Wales FA today released the following statement: 'We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family. We ask that everyone respects the family's privacy at this very sad time.'

A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police issued a statement.

'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.'

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

Speed had previously served the Welsh national team with distinction as a player, winning 85 caps in a 14-year international career.

Speed had appeared happy and optimistic on BBC1's Football Focus on Saturday, just hours earlier. He seemed enthusiastic about his team's future and his hopes for success in World Cup qualifying matches next year.

BBC host, Dan Walker spent four hours on and off camera with him. He said after news of Speed's death: ‘He was as bubbly as I’ve known him. He was talking about his kids, how they were really coming on, and talking about playing golf next week.

‘Even small things like how he’d just got into Twitter. It’s awful to think someone who was so gifted and so well liked with the rest of his life to look forward to has been cruelly removed. He was in such a good mood about the show and said he’d love to come back before Christmas.’

After the news of Speed's death, Premier League matches at Swansea and Liverpool went ahead with players wearing black armbands.

Those in shock and grief included Aston Villa keeper Shay Given who played with Speed at Newcastle. Kenny Dalglish withdrew grieving striker Craig Bellamy from his squad that faced Manchester City in the Premier League draw following the shock news.

Dalglish said: 'There are more important things than playing a football match.' 'I know Gary Speed. He was a fantastic footballer but more importantly he was a decent fellow. 'A lot of people are saddened by what has happened and the most important people, at this moment in time, is his wife and two boys. 'Your heart goes out to them and they will need as much support as they can possibly get in the immediate future.

'I am sure they will get that because he had a lot of good friends and because he was a good guy himself. It is disappointing for everybody.'

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini also paid his respects to Speed.  'I am very sad for his family. It is a very bad day for his family. 'I remember him as a player - he was a fantastic player.'

Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish said: 'I'm shocked. My blood ran cold when I head the news. It's very sad. 'Three of our boys knew Gary very well. James Collins is a Wales international. Shay Given has known him for a while and Shay got the news first. 'Jermaine Jenas played with Gary at Newcastle. These boys are all very upset. We would've understood if they had called the game off.'

Aston Villa keeper Shay Given, who played with Speed at Newcastle, was in tears.

He retired from playing in 2010.

Speed leaves a 40-year-old widow Louise, and two children Ed and Tommy.

A friend described Speed as a ‘completely devoted dad’ to sons Ed, 14, and 13-year-old Tommy. Both are promising sportsmen. Ed is a footballer and Tommy a keen boxer.

Speed represented Wales 85 times as a player.

FAW Chief Executive, Jonathan Ford said: 'I, and all of the football family of Wales, am devastated by the news of Gary's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family at this difficult time.'

'In that short space of time  he showed the talent he had for working with the players.

'He had such a bright, fantastic future to look forward to in football but that is secondary, it's about his family and his boys.'

FAW President, Phil Pritchard stated: 'I am completely shocked by this terrible news and my thoughts are with his family. We will do whatever we can as an association to help them in this difficult time. All our thoughts are with his family and this sad time.'

Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso, now with Real Madrid, Tweeted: 'RIP Gary Speed. My first PL game was against him, he showed me in that game what is British football about.'