There will be other more knowledgeable and much more touching things you will read about the tragic loss of Gary Speed over the weekend.
The outpouring of messages expressing people’s shock and grief have been almost overwhelming. Gary was clearly a man who was liked and respected throughout football. Here at One Foot In The Game, we’d like to express our sorrow at such a loss.
From a personal perspective as a Welsh fan, Gary played a large part in many of my most vivid memories of Wales. He was in the squad that nearly qualified for the 1994 World Cup and was instrumental in the side that nearly qualified for the 2004 European Championships. Then recently as Wales manager he was in the process of creating a gifted and fluid side blessed with talents like Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale. For me, Gary Speed was a footballing constant, one of those rare Welsh players who was consistently at the top of the game, playing in the top flight, in European competition and winning a record number of outfield caps for Wales.
Ever since I started watching football he was involved somewhere. As a Welshman I always looked out for him in matches. When he started managing I was excited that he could maybe be Wales manager one day. When he became manager it felt right, that someone who for me was so entwined in the Wales set-up throughout my life was now in charge of the national side.
Even so, I’ve been surprised at how hard the news of his death has hit me.
After all, I never had the privilege of meeting Gary Speed, let alone knowing him. But the news on Sunday morning left me genuinely reeling and upset. The messages of shock and sadness that I saw on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter showed me that I wasn’t alone in feeling like this. While talking to friends about it a number of conversations have consisted of long periods of stunned silence as we try to comprehend it all.
These messages and sentiments, and the effect that his passing has had on so many people who appreciated him, are a tribute to how well liked he was. So, on behalf of all of us at One Foot In The Game, thank you Gary Speed for everything you gave to us.
Diolch yn fawr. Our thoughts go out to Gary’s family and friends at this tragic and incredibly difficult time.
Rest in peace Gary.