Speed death shocks soccer world

Gary Speed during his days with Leeds

The soccer world was shocked and saddened on Sunday to hear of the passing of Wales national team coach and former player Gary Speed.

The 42-year-old married father of two boys apparently took his own life at his home, and many have since expressed their astonishment and disbelief.

For here was a popular man that had had a hugely successful career as a midfielder and still had an enormous future ahead in the coaching world.

He made 700 appearances as a player – 535 in the English Premier League — with Leeds United (where he won a league championship medal in 1992), Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United. He earned 85 caps with Wales, the most of any outfield player for his country.

He retired two years ago and commenced his managerial career at Sheffield United before becoming the Wales boss last year. In the space of 10 months, he lifted them from their lowest ever FIFA world ranking of 117 back into the top 50, helped by wins in four of their last five matches.

He had, on Saturday lunchtime, appeared on BBC’s weekly show, Football Focus, alongside old Leeds team mate Gary McAllister, and clips show him seemingly in good spirits.

He had many fans, including my sister, and I can still remember the posters she had fixed to the wall in his Leeds United rig out and sporting his trademark mop of floppy black hair, while enjoying the illustrious company of New Kids on the Block and A-Ha.

And if you took a trip through the world of  social media over the past couple of days, it was clear she was not alone. R.I.P. Speedo.

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