Euro 2012: Gary Speed Wales National Team

HRH Prince Charles Honors Gary Speed

GARY SPEED
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Gary Speed, the Welsh national team manager was found dead at the age of 42 on Sunday. Speed had many friends after a distinguished playing career before enjoying further success in management.

"We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family," read the statement. "All at the FAW admired Gary's passion for the job and task of taking the team back up the European and world rankings."

Speed, appointed Wales manager in December last year, was a versatile midfielder as a player. He started his career at Leeds United AFC, where he won the First Division title in 1991/92. He went on to play for Everton FC, Newcastle United FC, Bolton Wanderers FC and Sheffield United FC.

Speed won 85 caps for his country – more than any other outfield player – between 1990 and 2004, many as captain. He made 535 Premier League appearances, the third highest total in history.

Gary Speed, the manager of Wales who was found dead aged 42 on Sunday, enjoyed a hugely distinguished career in football.

As a player, Speed was blessed with skill, athleticism, intelligence, dedication, sportsmanship and, not least, universal popularity. Then, joining the managerial ranks, he called on those same attributes to carve out another successful profession.

Born in Mancot in north Wales, Speed made his debut for Leeds United AFC at 19. He could play anywhere across midfield and in his later years gave distinguished service to his country at left-back. During an eight-year stay at Elland Road he helped Leeds win the English First Division title in 1992 and formed part of a distinguished midfield alongside Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty.

Speed then had an 18-month spell with Everton FC, the team he supported as a boy and went on to captain, but it was at Newcastle United FC from 1998 onwards that he flourished as one of the Premier League's all-time outstanding players, appearing in the 1998 and 1999 FA Cup finals.

Speed made his Wales debut in 1990 and went on to win 85 caps – the most for a Welsh outfield player – many as captain. He announced his international retirement in 2004 yet continued plying his trade with Bolton Wanderers FC and finally Sheffield United FC, becoming the first man to reach 500 Premier League appearances. He would make 535 – the third highest top-flight tally since 1992/93 – and more than 750 first-team outings in total.

He had long been marked out as a likely manager of the future and began coaching duties with Sheffield United, before taking the reins after three games of the 2010/11 season.

It was around the same time that John Toshack agreed to step down as manager of the Welsh national side. Speed was confirmed as his replacement on 14 December 2010 and after a difficult start had begun to make a success of the job, guiding Wales to five victories in their last seven fixtures.

So well liked and so respected, Speed was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2010 birthday honours for his services to football. He leaves a wife, Louise, and two sons.

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Quarter-finals

21 June 2012 20:45 UTC+2
Winner Group A Match 25 v Runner-up Group B at National Stadium, Warsaw

22 June 2012 20:45 UTC+2
Winner Group B Match 26 v Runner-up Group A at PGE Arena, Gdansk

23 June 2012 21:45 UTC+3
Winner Group C Match 27 v Runner-up Group D at Donbass Arena, Donetsk

24 June 2012 21:45 UTC+3
Winner Group D v Runner-up Group at Olympic Stadium, Kiev