It’s humbling to watch our sport bid farewell to Gary

Encouragement: The late, great Gary Speed

Encouragement: The late, great Gary Speed

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A solid three points for Sheffield United last weekend and an upcoming FA Cup home tie against Torquay on Saturday.

However the death of Gary Speed has come to the forefront of not only football but of sport and communities as a whole.

I got to know Gary on his arrival to Bramall Lane and came in regular contact with him when he stepped up to manage the Blades, interviewing him on his new challenge, from then on in we stayed in touch and became friends.

When Gary left United to take on the Wales managerial job he was still very much interested in the Blades performance, we often had conversations about the club’s form or lack of it at the time, the then-manager and the task he had ahead at Wales.

Every now and again, he also used to drop in the fact that he’d beaten me in the London Marathon 2010, his first marathon as opposed to my fifth.

Whenever he had seen me on air doing one thing or another or watched me on Sky Sports News, he would send me a little text of encouragement, I say ‘little’ but it made such an impact on me, that extra little boost that we all sometimes need.

Never underestimate the power of a little encouragement, the power of taking a small amount of time for somebody can have a massive effect, the power of one man, we can all learn from this.

There have been an incredible amount of amazing tributes and I just wanted to say a thank you to the man that wore our shirt, that managed our team and the man who always encouraged me in what I do, supported me and gave me his time and friendship.

In the two days following this shock news, I couldn’t watch reports on TV regarding his death and avoided the newspapers and social networking but I was on air on Sky Sports News on Tuesday night.

It was hard to talk about somebody you know and who has touched your life, in such a matter of fact reporting way.

However watching the unity and emotion amongst all football fans in applauding and grieving for the much loved man was humbling in every way.

Listening to the 11 minute chant of Gary’s name during Leeds’ match at Nottingham Forest, seeing Craig Bellamy’s tears at the start of Liverpool’s game at Stamford Bridge and watching the atmosphere at Cardiff City Stadium really makes you think and shows how strong and united we as humans can be.

That is the power of our much loved game, football.

I hope that this power can continue to be used in a positive way irrespective of what colours we sport.

A mindset that is still competitive, passionate but an environment more accepting and less judgmental. After all irrespective of what job any one does we are human beings, underneath every football player, manager and fan is a person.

This Saturday, Sheffield United on and off the pitch will do the true gentleman of football proud. A Blades send off for our Blade, with memories that will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace.

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