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Gary Speed..my memories

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I am still struggling to get my head around what has happened to Gary Speed.  As somebody who had the fortune to play alongside him many years ago, even though it was only on a number of occasions, it makes it seem all the more unreal.

At that time back in the early nineties Gary Speed had achieved what I was hoping to achieve. He was very much a role model for me and the other group of young pro’s at Leeds Utd. He had established himself amongst the regular Leeds United first team and was achieving his potential.

He led the way for other youngsters of the time such as Gary Kelly, Noel Whelan, Kevin Sharp, mark Tinkler and Andy Couzens.

There were times when he would assure us that we were on the right road and to keep going. Howard Wilkinson was a fearsome figure to a teenager back then and Gary knew what we were going through. He made us feel that we were OK on many occasions with a quiet word or a reassuring glance. He was the like and soul of any social events too and also had the professionalism and dedication which enabled him to have such an illustrious career. He was the fittest of the Leeds United squad which is saying something. He was the hardest trainer who never missed a session.

I remember him popping into the dressing room shortly before our FA Youth Cup win at Elland Road against Manchester Utd to wish us all the best of luck.

I remember him integrating that group of young players into the first team squad by going out of his way on so many occasions.

I also remember rooming with him in a hotel the night before my last Premier League start against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. His ritual was to have milk and cookies before bed. He treated me to the same in our room. It didn’t do me any good as I had a stinker but he scored one of his trademark headed goals in a 2-1 defeat as Alan Shearer scored 2 that day.

I remember playing against him when he was at Everton. He went out of his way to ask how I was getting on. He had time for everybody and was one of footballs great men. People that knew him much better than I have all said similar things to me and there are countless other people both in and out of football who he has effected in a positive way.

Football has lost a great man who will never be forgotten.

RIP Gary

 

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