SHEFFIELD United last night spoke of the indelible impression Gary Speed MBE made on Bramall Lane during his three-year spell in South Yorkshire.
As supporters continued to leave tributes outside United’s stadium following the discovery of Speed’s body at his Cheshire home on Sunday morning, director Scott McCabe revealed the 42-year-old’s “decency and professionalism” had impressed staff, teammates and supporters alike immediately after arriving from Bolton Wanderers.
United are exploring ways of commemorating Speed’s life and achievements during this weekend’s FA Cup tie against Torquay and McCabe said: “Gary left his mark on Sheffield United, not just because of his stature within the game but also because of the type of person he was. Gary had many friends here and the total respect of everyone he worked with.
“The depth of shock and sadness at what has happened speaks volumes about how well-liked he was.”
Speed served United as both a player and coach before being unveiled as manager in August 2010. Capped 85 times by Wales, he spent 18 matches at the helm before leaving to take charge of the principality.
“Gary left on amicable terms,” McCabe said. “He was very proud – and quite rightly so – to lead his country.
“He was very bright, intelligent and excellent with people. Those were just some of the qualities he had that really shone through and were evident to everyone who met him.”
Speed, who was honoured for services to football in 2010, started his career at Leeds before also representing Everton and Newcastle.
Signed by then manager Bryan Robson, he made his United debut at Wolverhampton Wanderers on New Year’s Day in 2008 and went on to make a further 39 appearances before retiring due to injury.
“We have conveyed our sympathies to Gary’s wife Louise, his children and family,” said McCabe.