Steer attends Speed tribute

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SHEFFIELD United chairman Chris Steer will represent Bramall Lane at Gary Speed’s memorial game this evening.

Speed, who managed the South Yorkshire club before taking charge of Wales in December 2010, died at his home in the North-west of England three months ago.

Tonight’s match between Costa Rica and the Principality at Cardiff City Stadium is designed to celebrate a remarkable footballing career spanning 23 years and 85 international caps.

Steer, who has elected to miss United’s League One fixture against Scunthorpe in order to attend, said: “Everyone at Sheffield United felt it was important to be a part of an occasion such as this.”

Craig Bellamy will captain Wales against the Central Americans after regular skipper Aaron Ramsey was forced to withdraw with an ankle injury.

It will mark the first time the 67-cap forward has led his country since the Euro 2012 qualifying defeat in Montenegro in September 2010 and could also prove to be his last game for Wales.

Bellamy was hit particularly hard by Speed’s death in November and is known to be considering his international future, although new manager Chris Coleman is trying to convince him to play on through the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Coach Osian Roberts said: “For obvious reasons Craig will lead the side tomorrow night.

“He knew Gary better than anybody; he is a close friend of the Speed family and it seems only right that he should lead Wales on the night.”

Coleman also praised vice-captain Ashley Williams after the Swansea defender allowed Bellamy to take the armband on what will be an emotionally-charged occasion.

“It is a real nice gesture from Ashley Williams,” he said. “I spoke with Ashley yesterday and it’s a different game, there is no getting around it.

“It is fitting. Aaron is our captain and he will be leading the team out with Gary’s two sons, Tom and Ed, and Craig is captain on the night, which is the right thing to do, and it is also a nice gesture from Ashley Williams.”

Coleman added: “Craig is a passionate Welshman and he still has lots to offer so I hope he stays.”

Speed made nearly 40 league appearances for United after arriving from Bolton Wanderers in 2008. He made his professional debut for Leeds in 1988 before also enjoying spells with Everton and Newcastle.