GARY SPEED’S parents joined a capacity crowd in paying an emotional tribute to the former footballer and manager in today’s Championship clash between Leeds United and Newcastle United at Elland Road.
Supporters of both teams conducted a thunderous minute’s applause in the 11th minute of yesterday’s game - celebrating the number the popular winger used to sport for both the Magpies and the Whites.
The former midfielder, who went on to manage Sheffield United and Wales, died aged just 42 in November 2011. And before kick-off his parents Roger and Carol took to the Elland Road pitch to salute an appreciative Elland Road crowd.
Both sets of players also warmed up wearing t-shirts with ‘Speed 11’ emblazoned on the back of them and fans then chanted Speed’s name - both as his parents took to the pitch prior to kick-off and then during the minute’s applause in the game itself.
Leeds United chief executive Ben Mansford also paid a touching tribute to Speed in today’s match-day programme.
“Gary Speed passed away nearly five years ago now and we are delighted to be able to pay our respects before kick-off in the presence of Gary’s parents Roger and Carol,” said Mansford.
Gary has an unrivalled place in football history and in the football family.Leeds United chief executive Ben Mansford
“Gary was an integral part of the team that won the First Division title in 1992 and went on to make over 300 appearances for Leeds United.
“Gary has an unrivalled place in football history and in the football family.
“I cannot think of any other player who is so comprehensively adored by the supporters of every club he has ever played for.”
Speaking in Friday’s pre-match press conference, Leeds head coach Garry Monk described Speed as one of Leeds United’s “own.”
“He is a legend for both clubs but I am sure the Leeds fans especially class him as one of their own,” said the former Swansea manager. “He came through here as a very young player.”
Today’s game was watched by a sell-out crowd of 36,002 - Elland Road’s first capacity attendance for just under six years.
Two goals from striker Dwight Gayle gave Newcastle a 2-0 victory that moved them five points clear at the top of the league.
Leeds now sit seventh but only one point off the division’s play-offs. For a full report and analysis of the game, check out our supplement The Match.