… Or coming to coming to terms with the suicide of a gentleman…
After playing football early on Sunday morning, I went back to bed to enjoy a deserved four-hour nap. I woke up to texts from both my brother and my mother to say that Gary Speed had apparently committed suicide. And I don’t mind admitting that I was genuinely upset by this.
I got up and turned my computer on, and received the confirmation I didn’t want to see from several news websites.
In his six years at Newcastle United, Gary Speed flew under the radar somewhat. Arguably in his peak, we all knew he was a great player, but the team was undoubtedly Alan Shearer’s.
But that is not to take away from any of his achievements. A consummate professional who looked after his fitness, it was no surprise that he was the first player to play in 500 Premier League games, and held the record for scoring in every single Premier League season until Ryan Giggs surpassed him a few years ago.
It is especially moving to read feedback from both ex-players and current players, none of whom have a bad word to say about Speedo. He was universally liked in the game, if sometimes somewhat under-appreciated by NUFC fans while at the club (I include myself here), and, one of the few footballers in the Premier League years who it was impossible to dislike.
I don’t want to talk about his death as that is not what he should be remembered for. He should be remembered for the six years of service he gave to NUFC, and the over two decades of service he gave to the game of football in England in Wales.
Enjoy memories of his life.
I read around about him some more after he died, and I think the below story sums up Gary Speed, and the reason people liked this talented, dignified and approachable man.
An Everton fan since childhood, he jumped at the chance to join his boyhood heroes in 1996. A dream come true, he ended up leaving the club within two years. He would never publicly say why, but he was allegedly asked to give a half-time team talk as the manager was too drunk to do it himself. He gave the talk, and then asked to leave the club, disappointed that something like this was happening at the club he loved above all others. But, ever the gentleman, he always refused to discuss the reasons behind his exit (leaving to join Newcastle) as he didn’t want to diminish the reputation of his club.
As much as I hate Sam Allardyce, he hit the nail on the head when he said that “If you had a daughter and she brought Gary Speed home, you’d be delighted”.
Good night, Speedo. We will always remember you.