Answers? Those answers are solely for the Speed family, and I truly hope they find them.
Media intrusion at the time of bereavement is unnecessary. Cameras, camcorders, and gossip mongers alike let this one lie – no twisted rumors from tabloids claiming to have the inside scoop on this one please. For today, the nation is mourning the loss of an incredibly talented professional footballer and manager, and more importantly, two young boys and their mum are mourning the loss of a father and husband.
All youngsters (and elders alike) hold their soccer club in high esteem and furthermore idolize certain professional footballers. The outpouring of tributes to Gary Speed since the announcement of his untimely death on Sunday is evidence of that. It is therefore for good reason we don’t attempt to tarnish a name once idolized.
With a professional football career kick starting at the age of 19, making his debut with Leeds United, a transfer to Everton in 1996, and a subsequent one to Newcastle in 1998 and two further transfers to Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United in 2004 and 2008 respectively. An international career playing for the Wales side with 85 caps and appointed an MBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours – Speed had a career to be envious of. He retired from football but last year he stepped into the management position with Sheffield United, yet 3 months later was appointed manager of Wales. He was the Renaissance man as far as Welsh football is concerned – seeing Wales move from a world ranking of 117 to 45, signals that the future of Welsh football was indeed going to be a bright one under his leadership. He was a true professional with talent both on and off the pitch in abundance. With a CV like this, Gary Speed was and will remain a man to be idolized.
For now, to the media intent on penning rumours surrounding his death – don’t; they are not for this medium, they deserve to remain in the hands of his family. Instead channel this tragic story as a means to promote awareness of suicide and mental health issues to ensure other sporting stars amateur and professional alike are not susceptible to the same fate, for we lose too many to this taboo and undiscussed fate, don’t let Gary be another statistic - this is an issue we need to address in modern society.
To an outstanding talent, and the man behind the renaissance of Welsh football, as Mae West once said 'I like a man who’s good, but not too good – for the good die young' and Gary Speed was one of the good ones! Rest in Peace, the sporting world will not be the same without you.
The Forgotten Irish Graduate 29 November 2011