Gary Speed: Death of Wales National Team Coach Shocks Football World

CARDIFF, WALES - AUGUST 09: Gary Speed the manager of Wales addresses the media during the Wales Press Conference at The Vale Resort on August 9, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images
Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2011

Gary Speed, head coach of the Wales National Team and former English Premier League midfielder, was found dead on Sunday. According to a BBC report, Speed took his his own life and the investigation is ongoing.

His death has sent shock waves throughout the tight-knit football community. Those close to him say there was no signs of trouble from the vibrant 42-year-old Welshman, who took control of his country's national squad less than one year ago.

Speed started his playing career with Leeds United before making stops at Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton and Sheffield United during his 22 years as a professional. He scored 103 goals in 677 games at the club level.

He also received 85 caps with Wales, the second most in history. His leadership qualities as the team's captain became the driving force in him taking over as coach following a short coaching stint with the Blades.

BOLTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28:  Tributes to footballer and ex Everton player Gary Speed are seen outside Goodison Park the home ground of Everton FC on November 28, 2011 in Bolton, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Counting all competitions, Speed played in 925 matches and scored 141 goals. He was also a steady defender and it's that versatility which allowed him to maintain a spot in the sport he loved for so long.

His coaching career at Wales had just begun and by all accounts he was pleased with the team's progress during his 10-game run. They had five wins, five losses and no draws with an even goal differential under Speed's guidance.

Following the announcement of his death, there has been an outpouring of support for the football lifer. Everybody from players like Ryan Giggs to key members of the football community such as FIFA president Joseph Blatter are on the long list of those who've expressed their condolences.

It's clear by the sheer volume of supporters that Speed was well respected, not only in Wales, but around the world as well. That makes his death even more stunning to those who knew him best.

And the sadness probably won't subside anytime soon.

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