THE grieving mother of football legend Gary Speed says his death has left a hole in her life.
Carol Speed, 67, of Aston, Flintshire, says she will never understand why the Wales manager and father-of-two died.
Former Leeds, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton footballer Gary was found hanged at his home in Huntington, Chester, on November 27 last year. He was 42.
On the eve of the first anniversary of his death, Mrs Speed told the Leader: “We will never know why he did what he did.
“I wish I had an idea, because at least then I could come to terms with it.
“It has taken something out of me, I’ve got no interest in anything anymore.
“There’s just something missing. It doesn’t get any easier with time.”
Mrs Speed and husband Roger, 69, hold fond memories of their son and often share them his widow Louise, and their sons Tommy and Ed, who plays for Wrexham FC’s under-16s squad and at international level for Wales under-16s.
She said: “The boys are getting on with their lives, and Louise is pretty much the same. We see them quite a lot.
“Gary was wonderful. My memories go back to when he was a child.
“Roger is devastated, the same as me. We have had to help each other through it.”
The couple, of Courtland Drive, will mark the anniversary with a low-key family gathering at their daughter’s home in Reigate, Surrey.
The Mancot-born footballer was appointed manager of Wales in December 2010 after retiring as a player.
His body was found hanged in the garage of his home by his wife, but coroner Nicholas Rheinberg said he could not be satisfied the ex-Premier League star intended to kill himself. His death saw an outpouring of grief in the footballing community.
Mrs Speed thanked fans for their support, and to Hawarden Community Council which this month renamed a local park as a lasting tribute to the star. A 5ft-tall Welsh slate tablet has been erected on The Gary Speed, MBE, Playing Field, and a memorial bench has also been installed.
Mrs Speed added: “We don’t know what we would have done without the support.”
Friends of the footballing ace are still struggling to come to terms with their loss.
Sky Sports reporter Bryn Law, who grew up in Ruabon, was a friend for more than 20 years, and interviewed Gary at his home weeks before his death. ~
He said: “In the last 12 months we were in regular contact and were enjoying it together – me as a reporter covering Wales and him as manager. Then, all of a sudden, it just came to the most unbelievable halt.”
Bryn, who is president of Wrexham Supporters’ Trust, said: “There were no outward signs that any of us saw.
“He loved his kids. It’s the saddest story.”
Recalling how they first met, Mr Law said: “I moved from Ruabon to work in Leeds with the BBC which entailed going to Elland Road.
“Leeds had won the championship the season before and Gary was on the playing staff. We got talking as we’re both from North Wales and I’d seen him play for Wales.
“He was always really helpful.
Bryn learned of his friend’s death while on a day out with his children.
He said: “I noticed that I had a lot of missed calls from work which always makes me nervous. When I spoke to them I had it put to me very starkly, they said ‘Have you heard anything about Gary Speed being dead?’”
“It didn’t make sense. I’d received a text from Gary when I was covering a game the day before. Everything was normal.
“I thought it was a sick rumour so I put a call in with the Welsh FA.
“Sadly, they confirmed what had happened and I had to try and make sense of it.
“When I got home my wife and I just fell into her arms and sobbed.
“I was at Elland Road at 6am and the sun wasn’t even up before people came and started laying flowers. As the morning went on more and more people came and were crying. I can’t remember any other footballing figure who had that many people who cared about him.”
Bryn added: “As his close circle of friends we can reflect on the good times.
“For us we can take a few moments to think of Gary or spare a few minutes with our memories of him. One year on, it’s a terrible time for his family.”
Paul Ellis, deputy headteacher of Hawarden High School, says Gary was a top sportsman and academically-minded too.
He said: “Gary was a very talented sportsman. He will be in all of our thoughts on Tuesday.”
The school will feature in an S4C documentary about Gary next month.
Mickey tells of devastating loss
FORMER Wrexham FC player Mickey Thomas has also paid tribute to Gary.
Mickey said: “He was a great guy and it’s tragic what happened.
“It’s been devastating to Welsh football to lose someone of his stature.
“It’s a massive loss that effects everyone.
“I met Gary many years ago at Leeds when he was breaking into the first team.
“For a young lad he was a great player and his heading ability was especially impressive.
“He was one of the greatest players to grace the Premier League.”
Gary Owen is owner of Queensferry Sports and president of the Flintshire Junior League.
He watched Gary progress from a boy with Hawarden Rangers to the captain of his country.
He said: “The year’s gone by and Gary’s been greatly missed.”