Premier League veteran footballer Gary Speed is dead, aged 42. The former Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Leeds United and Sheffield United footballer, who most recently held the post as Wales national team manager, apparently committed suicide at his home overnight, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Speed, who made 677 league appearances, was capped by his country 85 times (the most caps for an outfield player for Wales). He will be remembered for his wonderful left foot which helped Leeds United win the First Division in 1992. But he will perhaps be best remembered for being such a pivotal player in Bolton’s rise under manager Sam Allardyce. He helped the Trotters reach sixth place in 2005 and qualify for the UEFA Cup where they reached the last 32. At Bolton, Speed became the first Premier League player to make 500 club appearances.
More recently, Speed was national team manager of Wales where he helped his country to its best run of recent form after wins against Switzerland (home), Bulgaria (away) and Norway (home).
Gary Speed’s impact on football and Wales, especially, was immense. When EPL Talk interviewed Craig Bellamy this past summer, the Welsh forward admitted that Gary Speed was the only reason why the Liverpool striker was not retiring from the international game. Speed, who was a player’s man, was incredibly well-respected within the Premier League. It’s a tragedy that he is no longer with us.
His death will add a somber mood to this morning’s Premier League match between Swansea City and Aston Villa (8:30am ET/1:30pm GMT kickoff).