FAW announces death of Gary Speed
Wales manager Gary Speed has died, the Football Association of Wales have confirmed. The FAW did not reveal the circumstances of the death of the 42-year-old former Leeds, Newcastle and Wales midfielder.
"The Football Association of Wales are sad to announce the death of the national team manager Gary Speed," read an FAW statement. "We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family. We ask that everyone respects the family's privacy at this very sad time."
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter sent his condolences to the association in a letter this afternoon. He said: "Gary Speed was a hugely talented player and a great servant for both club and country who will be greatly missed. He will always be remembered as a model professional and a fantastic ambassador for the game. Having attended the draw for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualification, it was clear to all there that he was a man who exuded enthusiasm and passion for the game."
"I would like to offer my deepest condolences on behalf of FIFA and the worldwide family of football to you, the Football Association of Wales, his wife Louise and their two sons, as well as Gary Speed’s friends and family. I hope the knowledge that we are all thinking of them can provide some solace in this time of deep sadness."
Both the FIFA and Welsh flags at FIFA's headquarters were both at half mast as a mark of respect.
Speed had been in charge of the national team since December 2010, and had recently presided over a run of four wins in five internationals to climb to 50th in the world rankings. Speed had previously served the Welsh national team with distinction as a player, winning 85 caps in a 14-year international career.
His greatest moment at club level came in 1992 when he won the championship with Leeds, while he was twice an FA Cup runner-up with Newcastle. Speed also represented Everton, Bolton and Sheffield United in 22-year professional career which saw him make nearly 700 league appearances.
He also held the record of most Premier League appearances with 535 until 2009 when veteran goalkeeper David James overtook him. He retired from playing in 2010 before embarking on his first managerial role with Sheffield United. Speed was awarded the MBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours for his services to football.