n this article, I’d like to think I'll do Gary Speed proud.
He was one of my many heroes when I was growing up in my childhood. Gary was born in Mancot, Wales on the 8th September 1969. Gary came through the youth ranks of Leeds United. He made his debut in the 1988 - 1989 season aged just 19. He won the first league title in the 1991-1992 season around the time the Premier League formed. Gary played 9 out of 11 positions for the club. Gary had always been a left sided player: at his time at Elland Road, Gary said his goal in the champions league, a left foot volley, was his best ever goal. In Gary’s time at Leeds, he was named in the team of the season. Gary played 312 times for Leeds and scored 57 over his time at the club.
In the 1996-1997 season Gary Speed left Leeds United and moved to Everton, for a reported fee of £3.5 million. In the month of August, Gary made his debut against his future club and scored against them. In November of that year, Gary scored his only Hat-trick of his career in a thrilling 7-1 win against Southampton. In the same season Gary was joint top scorer for Everton with Duncan Ferguson with 11 goals apiece and was voted the Player of the Year in his first season at the club. After the new year a new Manager took over as boss of the club and made Gary captain, but eventually their relationship became strained. Gary played his last game against Chelsea in a 3-1 win over them and scored one of the goals.
In the same month as he played his last game for Everton Football Club, Gary was sold to Newcastle United in a £5.5 million deal. In the Liverpool Echo, Gary said, "You know why I'm leaving but I’m not prepared to share it publicly because it will damage Everton Football Club which I am not prepared to do that."
Gary made his debut the next day against West Ham United, and his first goal became in the 6th round of the FA Cup. At the end of his first season, Gary helped Newcastle to reach the FA Cup Final, only to lose to Arsenal in a 2-0 defeat. He also played in a FA Cup Final in 1999, the year that Manchester United won the TREBLE, Manchester United won the Premier League, the FA Cup and the Champions League.
Gary moved to Bolton in a deal worth £750.000 and made his debut against West Ham United in a 4-0 win. Gary was the first Player to reach 500 appearances in the Premier League, only to be matched by Ryan Giggs a year later. In 2007 Sam (the boss of Bolton) resigned. Speed was named as first team coach, but later stepped down because he wanted to focus on his playing career. In his time playing for Bolton he played 141 games and only scored 14 goals for theclub, a little disappointing in a player of Speed's ability.
On Christmas Eve, Gary was loaned out to Sheffield United until New Year's Day. He made a £250,000 move to Sheffield United. He made his debut the same day as his move was completed in a 0-0 draw against Wolves. Most of the same season Gary was named as captain in the absence of Chris Morgan. The following season Gary started the season well, but had to have surgery. The injury was unknown and he failed to regain his fitness and missed most of the season. He concentrated on coaching Bolton. Gary retired from playing in his 41st year and said he would stay at the club one more year as coach.
Speed’s first game in charge of Wales was against the Republic of Ireland and the team won 3-0. Speed’s first competitive match was for the Euro 2012 qualifier against England in March 2011. In that match Gary made 20 Year old Aaron Ramsey the youngest ever Wales Captain.. In that game Wales lost 2-0. In August, Wales fell to their lowest world rankings of 117th, with losses against a lot of higher teams. Wales made up a lot of places and was awarded "best movers" as they gained the most ranking points than any other side.
On the 26th November 2011, Speed was on the Match of the Day with his former teammate, Gary Lineker as co-presenter, but the morning after his wife found him dead in their garage. Sadly Gary Speed had taken his own life. It was well known that Gary was suffering with depression. RIP Gary Speed. We are all missing you and you had a special career in the beautiful game.