Tributes paid to great guy Gary Speed

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WALES boss Chris Coleman says Gary Speed will never be forgotten after football marked the first anniversary of his death yesterday.

Speed, who represented Sheffield United as a player, coach and manager before taking charge of the principality, passed away aged 42 and Coleman said: “Forget the football, Gary was a great guy, different class.

“I was lucky enough to have known him for a long time. He’s greatly missed - I still miss him. I will always miss him.

“I can’t believe it’s a year ago. You don’t ever forget something like that. I will probably never get over it. You try to deal with it as time goes on.

“But you don’t forget someone like Gary. We never will.”

Speed played for Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton Wanderers before arriving at Bramall Lane in January 2008.

He won 85 caps for Wales, captaining them on over 40 occasions, after making his international debut against Costa Rica in 1990.

Football Association of Wales staff met yesterday to remember Speed at the governing body’s headquarters in Cardiff.

Flowers were laid and an image of Speed was lit up outside the building.

“It’s about remembering someone we were very fond of,” Coleman added. “We will celebrate Gary’s life, but I’m sure there will also be some tears.

“A lot of the staff in the offices knew Gary for 18 months. I knew him for 30 years. All of us have a relationship with him and all had the same opinion. He was a great guy.”

FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford said: “We not only lost the National Team Manager, we also lost a friend and colleague. Our thoughts, as they are every day, are with Gary’s family - his wife Louise, sons Ed and Tom, his parents Roger and Carol and his sister Lesley.”

Coleman was in charge of Greek side Larissa when he heard of Speed’s death.

“An hour before the game I got some text messages from Lee Clark, the Birmingham City manager,” he remembered. I’ll never forget the disbelief, the feeling of not understanding what had gone on. I don’t remember the game.”

Sheffield Wednesday coach Lee Bullen tweeted: “A year on doesn’t make it any easier for family, friends and ex-colleagues.”