Tributes paid to former Leeds United and Wales star Gary Speed

Gary Speed

Gary Speed

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TRIBUTES have been pouring in for former Leeds United and Wales midfielder Gary Speed who was found hanged at his Cheshire home on Sunday morning.

Among those leading the tributes to the 42 year-old was leader of Leeds City Council, Coun Keith Wakefield, who said: “On behalf of the city of Leeds I would like to express my shock and extreme sadness at the death of Gary Speed.

“Gary was a hugely popular and respected figure in Leeds, both on a personal and professional level, having started his career at Leeds United and playing a key role in the legendary title-winning side of 1992.

“He will forever be fondly remembered by everyone in the city and our thoughts at this very sad time are with his family and friends.”

Speed developed through the trainee ranks at Leeds United and went on to help the Whites to the Football League title in 1992.

He formed part of United’s potent midfield playing alongside the likes of Gordan Strachan, David Batty and Gary McAllister and made 312 appearances for the club before leaving in 1996.

Speed went on to play at Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United, becoming the first player to reach 500 Premier League appearances and enjoying a glittering career as a Welsh international, winning 85 caps - a record for an outfield player.

He was appointed manager of Wales in December 2010, following a spell at the helm of Sheffield United, and was guiding an improving team though qualification for the 2012 European Championships.

A statement on the official Leeds United website said: “Leeds United Football Club were stunned and saddened to learn of the passing of our former player Gary Speed on Sunday.

“The flags at Elland Road are flying at half-mast as a mark of respect and there will be a minute’s silence ahead of our game against Millwall on Saturday, December 3.”

Read Friday’s Wakefield Express for more of the latest football news.