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Matches
29 November 2011 - Nottingham Forest 0 Leeds United 4
Championship - City Ground - 23,577
Scorers: Leeds - Snodgrass (20 mins), Howson (45), Becchio (49), Clayton (66)
Nottingham Forest: Camp, Morgan, Chambers, Lynch, Reid, Cunningham (Gunter 64), Anderson, McGugan (McGoldrick 64), Moussi, Tudgay, Findley (Miller 46)
Leeds United: McCarthy, Connolly, Kisnorbo, Lees, Pugh, Snodgrass (Nunez 80), Clayton (Keogh 75), Howson, Brown, White, Becchio (McCormack 75)

Howard Wilkinson - "As the ultimate professional, Gary was a star in the true sense"printer friendly version

News of the untimely death of former Leeds United midfielder Gary Speed broke on the morning of Sunday, 27 November 2011.

The 42-year-old, who had succeeded John Toshack as manager of Wales in December 2010, appeared as a guest the previous day on BBC's Football Focus programme, with presenter Dan Walker, who recalled the day on his blog: "He was cracking jokes with Gary McAllister, his midfield partner from the title-winning Leeds side of 1991/92. Off air we talked about playing golf, how good his boys were at football and his dreams of taking Wales to the World Cup in 2014.

"After Focus we recorded a 10-minute piece with Gary talking about Wales' qualifying campaign for the next World Cup. He spoke with passion about the fixtures and desire to see success. His hope was that the upturn in form would see his team playing in front of full stadia again. He joked about Team GB and how Scotland would be an easy game, McAllister giggled.

"I joined Gary in the Match of the Day production office a few minutes later where he was chatting with Shearer, Mark Lawrenson and McAllister. They were having a laugh and watching the Stoke v Blackburn game. Alan and Gary were organising when they were going to see each other next before Shearer left to go to watch Manchester United v Newcastle at Old Trafford. They all ribbed Alan for his comedy hat that later featured on MOTD."

After the match ended, Speed drove home to Cheshire. The following morning, just before 7am, his wife Louise found his body hanged in the garage. She telephoned the ambulance service at 7:08am and the police were also informed. They confirmed that they were not treating the death as suspicious. His death was announced to the public by the Football Association of Wales.

An inquest was held, with the coroner reaching a narrative verdict, stating that cause of death was by "self-suspension". There was insufficient evidence to determine whether it was intentional as he may have intendedSpeed's widow, Louise, is comforted as she surveys the tributes to her husband outside the stadium before the game against Millwall to make a "dramatic gesture".

The inquest heard that the pressure of management had put some strain on his marriage and that he and Louise had argued the night before his death. Alan Shearer had told Speed that such arguments were normal within a long-term relationship, and Louise told the inquest how recent conversations between her and her husband "went on about our future together and how excited he was about our journey together".

Four days before his death, Speed had sent a text to his wife about the possibility of suicide, but he also dismissed such an action because of the importance of his wife and two children.

The football world was stunned by the news and rallied round, united in their tributes to the likeable Welshman.

Speed was the first player to make 500 appearances in the Premier League, after signing professional terms with Leeds in 1988 and making his first team debut at the age of 19 under the management of Howard Wilkinson, who commented: "Gary Speed was honourable, trustworthy and a joy to manage. He was honest, he was a role model and he was a great bloke. An avid learner, he recognised responsibility and he was always fully committed. Above all, he was a lovely person. Out of all the players I've have had under my wing, he remained a real favourite.

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"As the ultimate professional, Gary was a star in the true sense. For him to leave us at 42 is such a tragic loss. As a manager he had a life of success to look forward to, I'm sure. He had started so promisingly in charge of Wales, I imagined his managerial career would follow a steadily upward curve.

"His horrendous passing represents an unbelievable loss to his family and the football world. He leaves a huge, huge void and I can't begin to try to think what his parents, his lovely wife, Louise, and his boys are going through at this time. I'm finding this very, very difficult to come to terms with. It's unbelievable. I'm still struggling to get my head round it.

"I knew his parents, his dad in particular, very well because when I became manager of Leeds United Gary was one of what was then known as the groundstaff boys.

"My first meeting with Gary was in 1988 when I joined Leeds and I quickly realised he had a lovely personality. My first memory of him as a footballer relates to shortly after that when I watched him play left-back in a youth game.

"After working with him in training a few times I was soon telling him he could play in a few other roles, most notably wide left and left midfield. I think by the end at Leeds, I'd played him in nine or 10 outfield positions but, unlike some players, Gary never complained, never, ever showed any dissent. He just got on with things and, whatever job he was asked to do, invariably did it very well.

"He was a terrific footballer, not as naturally gifted as some, but he worked so hard, listened to advice and made the very most of everything he had. As a man, I've rarely come across a better, more balanced or more genuine person. He had a lovely family and, as the years passed, I was pleased to be able to get to know his wife and his two sons, Tommy and Ed, one of whom is a gifted footballer and the other a talented boxer. Playing in our title winning midfield at Leeds, Gary became particularly close to Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan. They were his big, big mates and mentors and they stayed close friends until the end.

"I'm proud that Gary attributed the extraordinary longevity of his playing career to things he learnt from being with us at Leeds. He felt the knowledge he acquired about fitness, diet and hydration during those early years at Elland RoadSupporters stand in hushed tribute to Speed outside the stadium before the game against Millwall helped him keep going for so long at Bolton before he finally decided to become a coach.

"Unlike some well-known players, Gary really believed in coach education and attended every course he could. When he took over as manager of Sheffield United he used the skills he'd learnt to help bring young players through to the first team and, later, he showed real commitment to the development of coaching in Wales.

"In many ways his approach to coaching and management was exactly the same as his approach to playing: he was absolutely dedicated and always eager to learn as much as possible. You could see how well he was starting to apply that knowledge in his job with Wales."

Speed helped Leeds win the Second Division title in 1990 and the championship two years later. He joined Everton in 1996 and later played for Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United. He went on to manage the Blades before taking change of Wales, for whom he appeared 85 times as a player.

James Brown from the Sabotage Times website: "If ever there was a player you could point to as a role model it was Gary Speed. Maybe one of those kids I train, or the boys they play against, or any other kid running over muddy parks all over the country this morning will become as great a footballer and sportsman as Gary Speed. That's what you hope for, but they'll have to go some way to achieve that.

"Last night I was stood in the Leeds United manager's office at Elland Road with Simon Grayson and my two closest Leeds United supporting friends. One of them is Gary's friend and agent. All four of us have known Gary Speed to differing degrees. None of us could have predicted that 12 hours later Gary would be found dead at home by his wife, Louise. The manager's area, reception, and players' lounge at Elland Road are covered with pictures of the great players who made their names under Don Revie, Howard Wilkinson and David O'Leary. It wasn't always that way, when Howard Wilkinson, arrived at the club at the end of the 1980s he insisted they take down the images of the Revie legends who were proving too great a team for subsequent groups of players to measure themselves against.

"It was Wilkinson's aim to create a new generation of players who would create a name for themselves. Gary Speed was a vital, vibrant part of the success Wilkinson steered the club to. Of all the pictures of the great Jack Charlton, free kick expert Ian Harte, midfield dynamo David Batty, and the images of the British Forces soldiers in their Leeds kits the one I looked at longest yesterday was the groupSpeed lifts the League championship trophy after United's title triumph in 1992 image of Howard Wilkinson's squad celebrating their winning the old League Division One championship.

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"If Batty was the tenacity in that great midfield, Speed was the pace and the cutting edge, McAllister was the passer, Strachan pulled the strings, but it was Speedo streaking forward with the ball that was the youthful threat the team needed. With Batts, Speedo represented the present and also the future. His recent success after a wobbly start as the Welsh national football manager has given similar hope and optimism to a nation for whom footballing success has been sparse. He was instrumental in helping Leeds United recapture glory and there's few who could argue that he hadn't started something significant with his young Welsh team.

"Back in the early 90s at Elland Road some fans would mock Speedo for growing his hair long, he could have come out in a pink afro for all I cared, so long as he made up the fourth place in the fantastic midfield line up and carried the game to the opposition like he did. His friend Ryan Giggs might have had that added Úlan to his play that won him the extra attention but Speed was pretty much the all-round midfielder, as reflected in the quality of clubs he played for and the men like Alex Ferguson and Fabio Capello who coveted him. When I think of Gary on the pitch I think of a player who works and runs constantly, who can score all sorts of goals.

"Those who knew Gary Speed very well, his friends and colleagues in and out of football, are as shocked as the rest of us who simply admired him. But it didn't matter if you played for Wales, Manchester United or were just a fan of football he would have time for you. He was an inspiration. Everyone who ever met him will tell you what a nice guy he was but that's the word I would use, Inspiration.

"We are so often taught to respect our elders that it becomes strange when the footballers in the team you support are younger than you and you find yourself admiring them. Go on Twitter or turn on the TV and you will see new and old quotes from the greatest British footballing talent of the last 25 years paying tribute. Sky will be telling you about his appearance records, transfer fees and fitness. I will leave them to deliver the stats and quote the tributes.

"For me this is more personal. I've been where his family are right now. My mum took her own life in February 1992 and when Leeds won the League that year it was the first time I felt happy. Maybe that's why I'm still sitting here in tears. Speed was part of something that's bigger than just football results and performances. He contributed to something that made people feel their lives were better because of it. He was a good man who was good to people and you can't really ask for any more than that. Most suicides leave you feeling 'it's just not right' but some deaths are sadly inevitable. Gary Speed's wasn't, his death is truly shocking and has rocked the world of football and beyond. He will be painfully missed by those that knew him, those that enjoyed what he gave to the world of sport and for those young kids legging it round the parks this morning hopefully his passing will prompt them to take some time to find out about him.

"People like Gary are the reason I still play football, still travel hundreds of miles to watch my team, still get up in the rain and go and train ten-year-olds after 6 hours sleep. They are what is great about football. He played to the best of his ability and with enthusiasm. Gary Speed was a good man I admired. I can't say any more than that."

Henry Winter in the Telegraph: "It was shortly after 11am on Monday when a Manchester United fanTOPMAN Speed in action during United's 1989/90 Second Division title-winning season approached the Gary Speed shrine enveloping the Billy Bremner statue outside Elland Road. He clutched a Manchester United shirt bearing the message 'Gary Speed RIP'.

"Wary of the reaction from the 30 or so Leeds United supporters gathered around the ever-expanding memorial to a fallen hero, the man from Manchester walked up to a Leeds official standing nearby. 'Can I lay this,' he asked, holding out the shirt. 'Of course,' came the reply. 'But will they say anything?' added the fan, pointing to the Leeds group. 'No, of course they won't,' replied the official, who accompanied him to where the flowers, cards, shirts and scarves were spreading from the plinth on to the pavement.

"He carefully, respectfully placed the shirt of Leeds' fiercest rivals in the middle of a sea of white. Some of the Leeds supporters engaged him in warm conversation. 'I'm a Manchester United fan,' he explained, 'but I wanted to show my respect to Gary for everything he did for football.'

"The terrace tribalism that can scar football was placed to one side as a sport united in mourning. Speed's immense standing in the game was reflected by this genuine gesture from a rival. Fans of all hues admired Speed because he embodied certain qualities that all fans crave in their stars: the hard work, the pride in the shirt, the ability to create and score.

"The outpouring of emotion shows no sign of slowing. Speed was so deeply loved. Such was the volume of people wanting to post messages on the Football Association of Wales' online book of condolences that the organisation's site briefly could not handle the intense traffic.

"Among the many tributes paid to Speed, the image of the FA of Wales computer with smoke pouring from its seams painted a vivid picture of his popularity. The most bipolar of sports, football can divide and unite, can reverberate to the vilest of chants and also pause for the most respectful of silences.

"After Hillsborough, Alex Ferguson was immediately on the phone to Kenny Dalglish, offering to send fans' representatives to Anfield. As he told Dalglish, Ferguson wanted Manchester United to show support for Liverpool in a time of such tragedy. No triteness is intended with the simple observation that football handles grief well. The family of football, often fractious, congregates as one.

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"In Speed's case, there is a desire to record gratitude for the joy he gave so many, to register disbelief at the untimely end of such a handsome, decent, ego-free man and, of course, to pass on condolences to his family. Other clubs' colours, and scribbled expressions of sympathy from match day adversaries, could be found at the Speed shrine.

"I visited late on Sunday. Even in the dark of a cold Yorkshire night, people were still driving up, parking and pausing for a few moments to remember a club icon.

"Some Leeds fans placed a picture of Speed in that 92 title-winning kit, even one from the 90/91 season United fans pay tribute during the Forest gameemblazoned with 'TOPMAN'. How appropriate. Summed up Speed. A police car even pulled up, the two officers examining this field of flowers and fabrics, this testament to the powerful feelings stirred by a likeable, talented Welshman.

"Leeds responded sensitively to Sunday's desperate news. At 6am on Monday, their manager, Simon Grayson, embarked on a series of interviews, shuttling between local television studios and the Speed shrine. By 8am, Grayson had done seven live interviews. He talked and talked, calmly and impressively, when the emotion must have been coursing through him like a rip tide.

"For Grayson grew up with Speed at Leeds, the pair had stayed good friends, and now he had to face question after question about the death of a team mate and a room mate.

"Grayson conducted himself with great dignity in trying circumstances. Behind Grayson, inside Elland Road, Speed's old club were besieged with calls from around the world, from the vast diaspora of Leeds fans mourning the loss of a revered footballing son.

"'The reaction has been phenomenal, unbelievable,' remarked a club official, in between fielding calls not just from the far flung parts but from followers of many different clubs

"Once again, with the Speed tragedy, one comes back to his elevated standing among all clubs. The high regard in which Speed was held is also captured in the number of clubs planning special tributes to him, whether periods of silence or applause.

"Many eyes will be on Nottingham. When Grayson's team visit Forest on Tuesday evening, the City Ground will fall silent for a minute before kick off. Leeds fans apparently intend singing a special tribute to Speed after 11 minutes, honouring his old club number.

"Saturday brings one of Leeds' rivals, Millwall, to Elland Road when the majority of Speed tributes are scheduled for what will be an occasion of raw emotion. Leeds will ask both captains to lay wreaths.

"For hours before kick off, thousands will mill around the Bremner statue, adding to the Speed shrine. Inevitably most poignant at Elland Road, similar scenes are being echoed at his other clubs.

"Shirts and scarves were draped on railings outside Bramall Lane, around a large photograph ofUnited players celebrate the opening goal at the City Ground Speed at the Reebok, on the gates outside Goodison Park and outside St James' Park.

"As with Grayson at Leeds, all of Speed's clubs responded to the tragedy with real class. Bolton Wanderers captain Kevin Davies, typically, spoke well of his old team mate. He even donned black attire for interviews. The chief executive of the FA of Wales, Jonathan Ford, talked powerfully about Speed, and threw open the door to the organisation's office for those needing support at 'this terrible, terrible time'.

"Wherever you look and listen, people are honouring Speed. Aston Villa's fine supporters have already stood in silent salute of the Wales manager at the Liberty Stadium.

"Of course they should, people will cry, it's common decency. Sadly, it's not always thus. I covered a Holland v France match in Lens when the Dutch fans tried to start a Mexican wave during a minute's silence for a French disaster. Enmity is a part of football.

"Not this week. Any hostilities that stain the game on these shores have been put on hold. Speed's stature in the game ensured that. In their darkest hour, at least his family know that countless people grieve with them."

Two days after Speed's death, United played Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in a Championship fixture. The club confirmed that there would be a minute's applause before the game and that both teams would wear black armbands as a mark of respect. But the most notable act of remembrance would be that from the travelling United fans, who declared that they would sing celebratory chants for eleven minutes, starting in the 11th minute, in recognition of the No 11 that Speed wore so well.

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Simon Grayson, a friend for 25 years: "We came to Elland Road as 14-year-olds and signed on the morning of a game and it was the first time I've ever come across him. His dad was with him and my dad was with me and Gary had that Chester accent I'd never came across. From then on, we trained together and in the school holidays, my parents came close to his parents who followed him in the youth team, reserves and then first team games. Subsequently, our paths crossed as players and then later on, as managers, we did six or seven years on coaching courses together. But it just seems just like yesterday we were 14-year-olds coming to this club.

"Sunday was a difficult day and I won't be the first to admit that I shed a tear when I got the news. I left here and just spent a little bit of time to myself. But you've got to get your professional head on because Gary would have wanted us to do that. He'd have been doing exactly the same thing, preparing his team as thoroughly as possible for a game. It would be a fantastic and fitting way for us to remember Gary by managing to get three points. Hopefully, my team can do Gary Speed justice in terms of how he produced performances for this football club."

After United's dismal showing three days earlier in a 2-1 defeat at home to Barnsley, Grayson chose to shake things up, reverting to the 4-5-1 formation that had served him so well the previous season. Aidy White took up the role on the left that had been left vacant after Max Gradel's transfer and Michael Brown was given his first start since September 10, allowing Jonny Howson to take up a more advanced position.

After a pre-kick off minute's applause, the action was played out to the backdrop of sustained chanting of "Oh, Gary Gary, Gary Gary Gary, Gary Speed".

United players rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion, exerting utter dominance from start to finish. They were immediately on the offensive, White breaking down the left inside the first 20 seconds to throw in a cross, from which Robert Snodgrass shot high over the bar.

Forest centre-back Wes Morgan had to deal with another cross and Howson tested goalkeeper Lee Camp with a low drive. Brown then worked the keeper even harder with a strike from 30 yards.

As planned, the concentrated chant began in the eleventh minute and echoed round the City Ground. It was a spine tingling show of togetherness and celebration and it was so very, very fitting that, just as the planned eleven minutes were drawing to a close, United should take the lead. Adam Clayton dispossessed a Forest player in the middle of their half and latter day hero Snodgrass took the ball and unleashed a crisp strike from distance to beat Forest keeper Lee Camp.

The goal was fitting reward for the way United had dominated the opening minutes, and they continued to do so with Luciano Becchio having two efforts blocked by defenders. Snodgrass was denied a second goal after Camp came out to meet his run. The Scottish winger emerged from the challenge with the ball and tried to find the vacant goal from 25 yards, but his shot was deflected onto the roof of the net by a last ditch intervention from Morgan.

Snodgrass was involved again after 40 minutes, robbing Cunningham to get away down the right but when he pulled the ball back, Howson shot wide.

On the stroke of half time, from Becchio's flicked header, Snodgrass cushioned a pass out to Howson on the right. The midfielder launched into it first time and lashed home a spectacular strike from 20 yards to make it 2-0.

Forest had barely registered a chance in the first half and brought on Ishmael Miller after the break in a bid to remedy this, but they were left reeling after four minutes when United scored their third. Brown curled in a cross fromAdam Clayton gets in on the act as skipper Jonny Howson celebrates his goa the left flank and Becchio nodded home from the edge of the six-yard area.

Miller did get in on the action on the hour but his header was comfortably saved by United keeper Alex McCarthy.

After 66 minutes, United moved into a 4-0 lead. Howson picked up the ball five yards outside the area and wriggled his way deep into the danger zone. His shot was parried by Camp, but Clayton latched onto the loose ball and fired into the roof of the net from six yards.

Forest's misery was compounded with ten minutes remaining when midfielder Andy Reid was shown a second yellow card for a foul which sent Aidy White flying.

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"Can we play you every week?" the United fans taunted from the packed Bridgford End of the City Ground, drowning under an ocean of white scarves.

Skipper Jonny Howson was possibly the man of the match. According to Phil Hay in the Yorkshire Evening Post, "It is no secret that a young Jonny Howson saw himself as a forward in the making. Those who watched him blossom in Leeds United's academy remember a player with great potential and a natural eye for goal.

"Until last season, Howson had never scored more than five times in a single term. But when a positional shift dictated by Simon Grayson helped him find his finishing touch, he ran into double figures with a spate of important goals. His potency was the direct result of Grayson's decision to plant him in the void between United's midfield and their striker, Luciano Becchio. Having previously scratched around for chances, Howson scored a classic hat trick in a 4-1 victory at Scunthorpe United and looked as if he had found a niche.

"For the first time in several months, he was given that freedom again at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday and justified his role with his first goal of the season, a brilliant volley from 20 yards. Given the choice, United's captain would remain in that position against Millwall tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Grayson might be happy to let him after seeing Leeds mark an emotional evening at the City Ground with a 4-0 victory."

Howson: "I've mentioned it before that I love to play in that role. It's no secret. I haven't played there since the first game of the season and it was nice to get the chance again. For me, personally, I believe it's my natural position. I just do things automatically when I'm playing there.

"I've got the insurance of having Clayts and Browny behind me and I knew I Clayton makes it 4-0could push on every time we got the ball. It gave me more freedom and it's something I really enjoy. When I play there, I always believe I'm going to create chances or get chances myself. As a youngster, I was brought up playing further forward. My main task was to put Forest's defence under pressure and I think I helped us to do that."

In previous games, Grayson had persisted with a two-man forward line in which Ross McCormack was the focus and Andy Keogh a regular. Becchio took Keogh's place against Barnsley and McCormack was dropped at the City Ground, consigned to the bench despite his 11 goals. The impact was resounding.

"We obviously knew the circumstances before the game," Howson said when asked about Gary Speed. "I didn't know Gary personally but I was still affected. When you hear the news, your initial reaction is that you can't believe it. Your thoughts and your heart go out to his family and those closest to him. It was shocking news and out of the blue - especially for the fans who'll have watched him play for us. Leeds United is part of their lives. Even people who didn't know Gary have been affected. I don't think you'd be human if it didn't.

"The tributes at our ground show the kind of guy he was and the effect he had on people. Listening to what everyone's had to say about Gary, it's all positive. People can't speak highly enough of him.

"I don't know if we were under more pressure at Forest, but obviously we were going to give everything we had in memory of him.

"As difficult as things have been, it was a nice touch that our fans sang his name for 11 minutes from the 11th minute. We could hear them and we were aware of it.

"What we've done maybe won't help or make a difference but it's a little something and all the lads wanted to do it. The win was certainly for Gary and one for the fans too."

Simon Grayson: "Gary Speed was a fantastic person and I wanted my players to go out and produce a performance for him tonight. That was right out of the top locker of our performances tonight. It was very poignant that the first goal came right as the 11 minutes of singing ended and was a left footed shot. Gary Speed scored many goals like that. It's been difficult, but I'm a very proud Man of the match Jonny Howson enjoys the momentmanager tonight. I'm delighted to have got a result for Gary Speed.

"We had a chat just before we went out and Glynn (Snodin) said some words to the players about Gary, about who he was and what he meant. They knew anyway, they know the feeling and they know how well respected he was, not just at Leeds but throughout the game. It was a passionate talk from Glynn and I'm not sure it's something I could have done because I don't think I would have been able to hold it together.

"It's probably the proudest result I've had at this club and in my career as a manager. The performance was very apt and it meant a lot to everybody. Our supporters can be proud of what they've done since Sunday and what they'll do tomorrow.

"It's a challenge to raise ourselves again but the players were very professional the other night. Many of them didn't know Gary personally but they were doing it for our supporters who watched him many times."

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