They Played for Both Clubs: Gary Speed

Michael Steele

Ladies and gentlemen, Gary Andrew Speed, MBE

Gary Speed was born in Mancot, Flintshire, in September 1969.

He began his career at Leeds United, turning professional in 1988, and going on to make his first team debut aged 19 in a goalless draw against Oldham Athletic in the Second Division under manager Howard Wilkinson. The following season, 1989/90, saw Speed make 25 appearances, scoring three goals along the way to helping Leeds win promotion to the First Division.

Established as a first team regular despite his young age, Speed played a key role, and was named club Player of the Year, as Leeds won the Football League First Division championship title in 1992, along with fellow midfielders in that title-winning side including the likes of Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty.

Making his first foray into European football, Speed was again a key member in the Leeds side who entered the European Cup. In a first-round tie against German champions VfB Stuttgart, who had won 3-0 at home, Speed scored in the second leg to lead Leeds to a 4-1 victory at Elland Road, which although Leeds went out of the tie on the away goals rule, they were later re-instated as Stuttgart had fielded an ineligible player.

Progressing and maturing into a fine attacking midfielder, and despite Leeds' struggles in the Premier League, often reaching double figures in terms of goals scored. Indeed such was his development, Speed was selected in the PFA Team of the Year for the 1992-93 season.

His final season at Leeds included an appearance in the 1996 Football League Cup Final defeat by Aston Villa. He would, in the Summer, be the subject of a £3.5m bid from fellow Premier League side, and his childhood heroes Everton, leaving Elland Road having made 312 appearances for Leeds United, scoring and impressive 57 goals. He made his debut in August 1996, scoring against Newcastle United. He would score the only hat-trick of his professional career that November, in a thumping 7-1 win over Southampton at Goodison Park. He finished his debut season at Everton with an impressive 11 goals, joint top-scorer with striker Duncan Ferguson. His efforts also led to his being voted Everton Player of Year.

At the start of the 1997/98 season, former Everton manager Howard Kendall returned to the club, succeeding Joe Royle as manager. Kendall immediately installed Speed as club captain. However, by January of 1998 the relationship between player and manager had broken down irrevocably, and Speed played his last game for the club, scoring in a 3-1 win over Chelsea, before being sold to a Kenny Dalglish-led Newcastle for £5.5 million. He had made 65 appearances for Everton, scoring 18 times.

He made his debut as a starter in a 1-0 home Premier League defeat to West Ham United, but had to wait until his fifth appearances for the club to score his first goal, against Barnsley in the FA Cup. He would only score one further league goal that season, a season which ended with a 2-0 defeat to eventual double winners Arsenal in the FA Cup Final. Speed featured in a second consecutive FA Cup Final defeat the year after, this time to Manchester United.

First choice for the majority of his time at Newcastle, Speed would stay at St James' Park for seven seasons, before leaving to join Bolton Wanderers having made 285 appearances, scoring 40 goals for the club. He signed a two-year deal in a £750,000 deal in July 2004. He would, however, spend four seasons at Bolton, along the way becoming the first player to make 500 Premier League appearances when he played in Bolton's 4-0 victory over West Ham United in December 2006. In May 2007 he was appointed as first team coach at Bolton following the departure of legendary manager Sam Allardyce, who was replaced by his former assistant Sammy Lee. However, in October amidst reports of a falling out with Lee, Speed resigned his coaching role and he rejoined the playing staff.

The records continued to fall, as when Speed scored a header for Bolton against Reading in August 2007, making him, at the time, the only player to have scored in every Premiership season to date, though Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs later matched this achievement. Speed left Bolton midway through his fourth year at the club, joining Sheffield United on loan in January 2008, with a view to a permanent move.

Speed made his first team debut on the day of his transfer - being named in the starting eleven for a 0-0 away draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers on New Year's Day 2008. He played regularly for the rest of the season and deputised as captain when Chris Morgan was unavailable, and scoring his first goal in a victory over Coventry City in March of that year. He went on to finish the season on three goals for the club, scoring both goals in a 2-1 home victory over Bristol City in the penultimate game of the 2007-08 season.

At the end of the season, and in an interview with BBC Wales, Speed hinted that the 2008-09 season may be his last playing before moving into coaching or management but stated that he had not yet made up his mind. He began the following season as a regular fixture in midfield but succumbed to a back injury in November 2008 which, despite undergoing surgery, caused him to miss the rest of the season, and therefore allowing him to concentrate on his coaching role at Sheffield United. concentrating instead on a coaching role at the club. Speed finally announced his retirement from playing in his 41st year, but agreed to remain at Sheffield United for at least one more season as a coach. Despite this he was again registered as a player and was named on the bench for the first round League Cup game against Hartlepool United at the outset of the following season. Upon his retirement he had made 40 appearances for the Blades, scoring six times.

Upon his retirement after a long and illustrious career, Speed made a total of 841 appearances, scoring 136 goals.

International Career

Speed played for Wales at youth level and earned three caps for the under-21 team. In total, he made 85 appearances for the Welsh national side, making him the second highest capped player in their history. He also captained Wales on 44 occasions.

His made his international debut in May 1990 in a 1-0 friendly win against Costa Rica, at Ninian Park, Cardiff, as a second-half replacement for Glyn Hodges, though he did not score until his 27th cap, a 3-2 away defeat in Moldova in a Euro 96 qualifier in 1994. His first game as national captain was during his 46th cap, a 3-0 away win in Malta in 1998. Speed went on to break the record held by Dean Saunders for most caps by a Welsh outfield player when he won his 76th in a 1-1 draw with Finland in a Euro 2004 qualifier in September 2003. Speed retired from international football in 2004 after the side's 3-2 defeat to Poland in a 2006 World Cup qualifier.

After his retirement from international football, he was recommended by both the former manager Mark Hughes and fellow Welsh midfielder Robbie Savage as a future Welsh national team manager.

Managerial Career

In 2010, Speed was appointed as manager of Sheffield United following the departure of previous manager Kevin Blackwell. His reign would prove to be short, when following a period of speculation, and just 18 games in club management, he was appointed as the Wales national manager, following the resignation of former Real Madrid manager John Toshack.

Wales

Speed's first game as Wales manager was in February 2011 in the Nations Cup, which the Republic of Ireland won 3-0, though his first competitive match was the Euro 2012 qualifier at home to England. Controversially, Speed appointed 22yr old Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey as Wales captain, thereby making him the youngest ever Wales captain. Wales lost to England 2-0, and in August 2011 Wales attained their lowest ever FIFA ranking of 117th. This was followed by a 2-1 home win against Montenegro, a 1-0 away loss to England, a 2-0 home win against Switzerland and a 1-0 away win against Bulgaria. Consequently in October 2011, Wales were ranked 45th in the world by FIFA. Speed's last game as manager of Wales was on 12 November 2011, a 4-1 home win in a friendly match against Norway.

In December 2011, the day of the final FIFA rankings of the year, Wales were awarded the title of 'Best Movers' of the year having gained more ranking points than any other nation in 2011.

Death

In November 2011, Speed appeared as a guest on the BBC One television programme Football Focus, with presenter Dan Walker later describing Speed as being in "fine form". After the programme finished at 1 pm, Speed chatted to various other pundits at the MediaCity studios in Salford before joining former Newcastle United team-mate Alan Shearer to watch their old club play against Manchester United at Old Trafford, a short walk from the studios across the Manchester Ship Canal. After the match ended, at 5 pm, Speed drove home to Huntington, Cheshire.

The following morning, just before 7 am, his wife Louise found his body hanged in the garage of his home. She telephoned the ambulance service at 7:08 am and the police were also informed. They confirmed him as being dead and the police announced that they were not treating his death as suspicious.

Although the facts were not fully established, it was reported that Speed committed suicide. His death was announced to the public by the Football Association of Wales a few hours later.

He is remembered fondly by all who met him, and with respect by those who saw him play.

Honours

Club

Leeds United

Newcastle United

Individual

Playing statistics

Club statistics

Club

Season

League

FA Cup

League Cup

Others

Total

Division

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Leeds United

1988-89

Second Division

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1989-90

Second Division

25

3

0

0

1

0

1

0

26

3

1990-91

First Division

38

7

6

0

7

3

5

1

56

10

1991-92

First Division

41

7

1

0

4

3

1

0

47

10

1992-93

Premier League

39

7

4

3

3

1

6

1

52

12

1993-94

Premier League

36

10

2

1

2

1

-

40

12

1994-95

Premier League

39

3

4

0

2

0

-

45

3

1995-96

Premier League

29

2

4

1

7

3

4

1

44

7

Total

248

39

21

5

26

11

17

3

312

58

Everton

1996-97

Premier League

37

9

2

1

2

1

-

41

11

1997-98

Premier League

21

7

0

0

3

0

-

24

7

Total

58

16

2

1

5

1

0

0

65

18

Newcastle United

1997-98

Premier League

13

1

4

1

0

0

0

0

17

2

1998-99

Premier League

38

4

6

1

2

0

2

0

48

5

1999-00

Premier League

36

9

6

3

1

0

6

1

49

13

2000-01

Premier League

35

5

2

0

4

1

-

41

6

2001-02

Premier League

29

5

2

0

3

0

6

2

40

7

2002-03

Premier League

24

2

0

0

0

0

12

1

36

3

2003-04

Premier League

38

3

2

0

1

0

13

1

54

4

Total

213

29

22

5

11

1

39

5

285

40

Bolton Wanderers

2004-05

Premier League

38

1

2

0

0

0

-

40

1

2005-06

Premier League

31

4

2

0

2

0

5

0

40

4

2006-07

Premier League

38

8

2

0

2

0

-

42

0

2007-08

Premier League

14

1

0

0

0

0

3

0

17

1

Total

121

14

6

0

4

0

8

0

139

14

Sheffield United

2007-08

Championship

20

3

2

0

0

0

-

22

3

2008-09

Championship

17

3

0

0

1

0

-

18

3

2009-10

Championship

0

0

0

0

0

0

-

0

0

2010-11

Championship

0

0

0

0

0

0

-

0

0

Total

37

6

2

0

1

0

0

0

40

6

Career total

677

104

53

11

47

13

64

8

841

136

Managerial statistics

Team

Nat

From

To

Record

G

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Win %

Sheffield United

England

17 August 2010

14 December 2010

18

6

3

9

15

24

-9

33.33

Wales

Wales

14 December 2010

27 November 2011

10

5

0

5

13

13

+0

50.00

Total

28

11

3

14

28

37

-9

39.29

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