Parents of Leeds United legend Gary Speed visit his memorial and Elland Road to relive memories
The parents of Leeds United legend Gary Speed returned to the city on Sunday to visit the recently completed Bramley mural in his honour.
Leeds United Supporters’ Trust welcomed Roger and Carol Speed to visit the mural which was commissioned by Bramley based business Showoff Design and Display.
Mr and Mrs Speed spent the morning chatting to Claire Bentley-Smith, the artist known as Poshfruit, who painted the ode to the former Whites player as part of the latest LUST tribute in an ongoing series of artwork across the city, as well as business owner Ross Horsman.
Ross Horsman chatted to the family and told them about his love for Gary as a player and why that has inspired him to choose this particular mural to stand proudly across the front of his building in Bramley, Leeds.
November will be the 10th year anniversary of the passing of Gary Speed.
Leeds United Supporters’ Trust discussed their ongoing plans for the rest of the year and how they aim to help raise awareness of their charity partner - Andys Man Club - a group aimed at getting men to open up about their mental health problems.
Roger and Carol then made the drive down to Elland Road and had a tour of the ground hosted by Eddie Gray, who worked with Gary at Leeds when he was on the YTS scheme.
They revisited the Gary Speed Suite, a tour of the ground and onto the other Trust mural on Lowfields Road, which also features Gary Speed from the famous 1992 First Division title-winning midfield.
Carol Speed said “It’s been such an honour to come and visit the mural and see it in the flesh, Claire has done an amazing job.
"We relived a few memories as we walked around the ground.
"I’m a little overwhelmed at the love and outpouring for Gary that still remains so passionately across the city.
"The mural is absolutely brilliant, it’s so clever and from the facial features you really don’t mistake who it is.
"It’s really surprised me that it’s been 10 years since we lost Gary and the people of Leeds are still thinking of him, so it’s such an honour to be here.
"When Gary passed away they didn’t have the support groups and awareness that we have now, it’s really escalated and now there’s groups out there to help men talk.
"The hardest thing for us as parents was we never knew he had any problems, we still don’t know to this day why or what happened that night, he always had a smile on his face.
"If you're physically ill you notice, and if you’re struggling mentally you don’t, so it’s great to see the tribute to Andy’s Man Club at part of the mural, getting men to talk is so important.
"Men should talk, it’s very important and talking helps.”
Ross Horsman, MD at Showcase said they had "jumped through hoops" to put the fantastic mural together.
He added: "With support of LUST, and Claire, our outstanding artist, I knew the mural would be more than special.
"It’s been received so well near and far.
"My friends and family, the community of Bramley and the city, Leeds fans from all over, and to see how it's unravelled on social media and define what the mural stands for.
"It’s Gary Speed. It’s clear this project has much more depth than we could have imagined.
"It’s touching so many people on a personal level.
"Having Andy’s Man Club supporting the project has shown the magnitude of what this mural means.
"It show’s what Gary Speed means to the people and city of Leeds."
Mr Horsman said it had been a "privilege" to meet Gary's parents.
He added: "To take the time out and travel to Leeds to see us and view the mural just means everything to all of the team involved.
"It’s amazing that the news of the mural travelled so quickly, and an honour to spend time with the Speed family.
"It amplifies the meaning behind the project. Get together, talk, share your thoughts, look after each other.
"We’ll always remember and cherish our number 11.”
Pete Emmerson, Leeds United Supporters’ Trust Chairman added: “It was an absolute privilege for us to welcome Carol and Roger back to Leeds to visit the mural. The Trust is committed to celebrating the rich history and heritage of Leeds United around the city and working alongside Ross and his business to delivery this project has been such a pleasure.
"We all shared a joint vision of creating a piece of artwork that would do justice to commemorating the life of Gary Speed, and credit to the amazing artist Claire Bentley Smith who delivered the final result. It was a little overwhelming to see the reaction from Gary’s parents, but we hope everyone is as proud of it as we are.”