Gone too soon
It has been a difficult period for the sport. This weekend, Socrates, the cerebral and commanding midfield general of the 1982 and 1986 Tele Santana led Brazilian teams passed away, battling the physical ravages of alcoholism. Last week, Gary Speed the effervescent Wales manager and Leeds standout tragically ended his life for reasons as yet unknown. He was just 42.
I remember him as a tireless presence in the Bolton side of 2006 alongside Ivan Campo, the hard charging defensive midfielder. It was partly because of the duo’s exploits that Sam Allardyce cemented his reputation as a manager who gave bigger clubs sleepless nights. Speed had become a legend by that time at Leeds and Newcastle with a shorter and equally memorable stint at Everton.
Never as talented as Ryan Giggs, his Wales team mate, Speed was known for his work ethic, fitness, and versatility in the outfield. He also set records for most appearances and as a player scoring in every Premiership season until matched and surpassed by Giggs. He also made 85 appearances for the national team.
Speed became Wales manager last year drawing on the past as an inspirational figure to his team mates and with experience as Sheffield United’s manager. One of the first things he did was to appoint 20 year old Aaron Ramsey as captain. A move that will benefit Arsenal in the future.
Here are more tributes to the player and manager who touched so many other lives. Speed’s funeral will be held later this week.
RIP, Gary Speed, you will be remembered as one of the good ones who left us too soon.