Diary of a Soccer Saturday Reporter

It takes a lot to shock me in football but when I heard on Sunday lunchtime that Wales manager Gary Speed had died, I couldn’t believe it. At the time, the circumstances of Speed’s death had not been confirmed but just the fact that a 42-year-old was no longer around sent a shiver down my spine. To then find out that he had hanged himself was an even bigger shock.

My own direct experience of Speed is limited to just one story, but it says everything about the man. I was covering Sheffield United at home to Scunthorpe last September for Sky Sports. I was there to do the post-match interviews with the two managers and after Speed’s Sheffield side had lost 4-0 I prepared myself for a potentially ‘tough’ interview with the Welshman. I needn’t have worried.

Despite obviously being disappointed with the result and his team’s display, Speed answered all the questions in a friendly and eloquent way. I think we could all name plenty of other players and managers, who wouldn’t have been so pleasant in the same situation, but he was the perfect gentlemen.

Listening to all the subsequent tributes made about the Wales boss on Sunday, it does however make you wonder if Speed had known how much he was loved and respected both inside and outside the sport perhaps, just perhaps, he might not have taken his own life. And that is the saddest part of it all.

Gary Speed (1969-2011)



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