Welcome to We Love You Everton - A Blog made for fans of Everton Football Club

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Gary Speed MBE 1969 - 2011

On the 27th November 2011 the football world was shocked to hear of the tragic and untimely death of former footballer and manager Gary Speed.

Speed represented his country Wales 85 times as a player and played for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United at club level.

Speed was born in Mancot in North Wales despite most of his family being born in Chester, England. He grew up a big Everton supporter and lived on the same street as former Everton captain Kevin Ratcliffe who had a kick about with Speed on occasions.

He started off a Leeds United playing alongside the likes of Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister and David Batty with the pinnacle of his Leeds career being winning the league in 1992.

In 1996 Everton came calling though and Speed was desperate to make the move to the club he had always followed.

He finished the season top goal scorer and player of the year under the stewardship of then Everton manager Joe Royle.

Howard Kendall arrived as Everton manager in 1997 and immediately made Speed captain and everything was looking good.

The relationship soon seemed to turn sour and it was abundantly clear that off the pitch Everton were struggling financially.

At the start of 1998 Speed was surprisingly sold to Newcastle United for reasons we still don’t fully know and perhaps possibly for the best we never will.

Speed was made out to be some sort of Judas figure when he departed Everton but listening to former players and colleagues who knew Speed this possibly wasn’t the case and only those close to him know the real truth.

Speed told the Liverpool Echo "You know why I’m leaving, but I can’t explain myself publicly because it would damage the good name of Everton Football Club and I’m not prepared to do that."

It’s a great loss to football and there is a great sadness that Evertonians memory of Speed is tainted by his sudden departure but the send off the Everton fans gave Speed was fitting to a true blue Everton hero who should be remembered for his passion, leadership and commitment to his work and to the team he supported Everton Football Club.

* The image above is from a tribute to Speed made by John Devlin who runs the excellent True Colours Football Kits website.

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