“Some people believe Football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you, it is much, much, more important than that.” – Bill Shankly, Liverpool manager and Legend 1959 – 1974
As Martin Tyler quoted the above earlier today, he followed it up by simply saying “today, it doesn’t feel that way”. Can anyone disagree with him? Sometimes we need an event to remind us all that Football is just a game. Your team could get beaten 5-0 and you could feel like the world is about to end, but it’s not. This is a sport played by qualified, talented, highly-paid, professionals who are also normal human beings with normal problems; however we, the fans, get incredibly caught up and carried away in all the emotions that the world of Football throws at us and we sometimes lose a grip on reality…until something tragic happens in the Football world that we love so much which puts it all into perspective and reminds us – it is only a game.
Today, Football has lost a great man. A legend. A man liked by all Football fans and players across the English leagues. Gary Speed, the current Wales national team manager, was found dead and hanging in his home. He committed suicide. The former Leeds, Newcastle, Everton, Bolton & Sheffield United player, was recognized for not only being one of the Premier League’s finest and most respectable players, but also for being a true gentleman off the field as well. He seemed like an incredibly likeable man (he was an M.B.E) and someone whose fledgling managerial career was on the rise with the way he improved Wales’ performances since taking over as manager since February 2011.
Reading the tributes that have flooded in following the sad news, it is extremely strange that Speed committed suicide considering that many of his former colleagues and peers have stated that yesterday and in the days that preceded his untimely death, they had shared a laugh with him and were having a chat over the phone. No signs of depression or any problems whatsoever. This just goes to show that we Football fans never really know what happens in the minds of these people we seem to admire and despise.
Football fans and all those involved in the game are saddened by this devastating news, especially as he was only 42 years old and leaves behind 2 children and his wife. Whatever the reasons were for his suicide, we should all hope that his legacy as a fine footballer and a gentleman are what he will be remembered for and not this tragedy. One of the rare footballers to be liked by all fans, it truly is a sad day for Football.
Gary Speed, Rest In Peace.
8 September 1969 – 27 November 2011