Today marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Gary Speed, the Leeds United legend who played his part in the club’s Division One title triumph in 1992.
Speed was found dead at his family home on November 27, 2011, aged just 42. At the time he was coach of the Wales national team, sowing the seeds of resurgence among a maligned group of players.
A flying winger in his youth, Speed featured in the brilliant midfield quartet which underpinned the success of ‘92, playing alongside David Batty, Gary McAllister and United captain Gordon Strachan.
Speed, a youth-team product at Elland Road, made more than 400 appearances for Leeds before joining Everton in 1996.
His sudden death led to nationwide tributes to a player affectionately known at ‘Speedo’ and Leeds and Newcastle United, another of his former clubs, shared a minute’s applause in his memory during their Championship meeting at Elland Road this month. The match was attended by Speed’s parents, Roger and Carol. There were further chants about Leeds’ famous number 11 during yesterday’s 2-1 win at Rotherham United.
Speaking recently, Strachan enthused about Howard Wilkinson’s midfield, telling the YEP: “Looking back now I can say yes, I see how good that group was. At the time I didn’t see it.
“I don’t mean there wasn’t talent there because look at the names we’re talking about but I thought of us as hardworking, hardworking. Always hardworking. Maybe I was a bit too close to it all to see it the way others did.”
Speed was immortalised by a special moment of commentary from John Helm during a rousing win over Sheffield United in 1990. Speed inspired a 4-0 victory which kept Leeds on course for promotion from Division Two. “Go on Gary Speed, get one yourself son,” Helm urged as Speed broke away to score. Those words have proved timeless.