Welsh football was dealt a massive blow on Sunday with the news that national team manager Gary Speed took his own life at his Cheshire home.
Speed, 42, had been in charge of the Welsh side for just under 12 months.
A former captain of his country and a real Premier League legend, Speed was one of the good guys In British football.
He had transformed the Welsh team over the last few months, and they look to have a decent chance of at last holding their own in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, where they will take on the likes of Serbia and Belgium in a pretty even-looking group.
The bold decisions he made had revitalised our football loving nation to a point where no longer were we the laughing of this football crazy island.
For the first time since the likes of Speed himself, Craig Bellamy and John Hartson were on the brink of reaching Euro 2004.
There are some truly excellent performers within this current side.
The biggest and probably best decision Speed made whilst in charge was making Aaron Ramsey the skipper.
Ramsey has all the attributes to become a world-class performer for both club and country. Speed saw this and entrusted him to lead his new-look Wales side.
Along with him, they have a player who is scaling the heights of his profession at the moment in Gareth Bale.
Bale, has had an unbelievable couple of seasons with Tottenham, going from a persistent substitute to the first name on the team sheet in the space of two seasons.
He also gave other youngsters the chance to shine on an international stage.
His defence would see Ashley Williams and Chris Gunter team up with Swansea’s Neil Taylor and Cardiff’s Darcy Blake in what is one of the best defences in years.
Blake marked Wayne Rooney out of the game during England’s 1-0 victory in September, but couldn't get in the Cardiff side at the moment.
Speed saw something in the youngster and gave him the chance to shine at the highest level.
This was what Speed was doing; he was building a side that would be ready for the World Cup in 2014 or the Euro’s in 2016.
He didn’t care for reputations, and to be fair before the recent turn in fortunes, reputations weren’t very good anyway.
Yesterday was a sad day. Being Welsh, I felt a deep sadness when the news came through I was actually with a Welsh international as the news came through.
Everybody was stunned and in total disbelief at what had happened.
It was in my mind the whole day and again today. The Premiership games were pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
Football needs to take a back seat and let Welsh football and most importantly the Speed family grieve their loss.
Gary Speed will never be forgotten, and who knows the ultimate thank you this current Welsh side could give him is actually qualify for a major tournament after he put the wheels in motion.
Rest in peace, Gary Speed.
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