Elegant, straight-backed and the general of every team he played in. RIP Gary Speed.
Having lost more than one childhood friend to suicide, being met with the news that someone so seemingly invincible as Gary Speed had been found dead at his home enveloped me in a darkness. Having never met the man or supported a club team he’s played for, it feels quite strange to be writing this, but the respect I had for Speed as a player and a man, and the joy which I have felt from his Welsh renaissance compelled me to pen something.
Striding around the midfields of England for as long as I can remember, Speed’s elegance always stood out in the hurly burly of the English game. Straight-backed, unafraid of the ball, a delightful left foot and an appreciation of space that made him the general of every team he played in is how i’ll remember him.
I recently commissioned fellow Saboteur, Stephen Tudor, to write a piece about Wales under Speed. We talked for ages about how brave he was in crafting a young team in his image, how the young players had someone to look up to, a manager who wanted to play football in a style that every player and fan appreciates. Be courageous, love the ball, assist your teammates and give, nor ask for, no quarter. My Grandad would’ve loved it, to see Wales playing on the front foot, fearing no-one.
But now none of that matters, what matters is that his family are allowed the time, and room, to grieve without intrusion. Apparently the Daily Telegraph are live blogging it. Leave it alone please. Although I refuse to speculate as to the reasons for his death, as a member of a family that, on my Mother’s side, has been haunted by depression, I’ve watched family members turn overnight from happy-go-lucky to broken. I didn’t see him on Football Focus yesterday, but anyone I’ve spoken to who watched reported that he was upbeat, looking forward to the future, which makes the news even more incomprehensible.
Seeing Shay Given in tears at the start of the Villa and Swansea game, and also hearing that Bellamy is apparently too devastated to play for Liverpool against Manchester City this afternoon, I think it would be best for all parties if they just cancelled the games. I know they won’t, but when one of the game’s most honourable servants is compelled to take his own life aged 42, it would be nice to think the financial juggernaut could stop and allow people to collect their thoughts.
RIP Gary Speed
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