Jeremy Goss pays tribute to Welsh manager Gary Speed

Former Norwich City player and Welsh international Jeremy Goss has paid tribute to Gary Speed, manager of the Welsh football team, who has died at the age of 42.

The Football Association of Wales announced the news of Mr Speed's death in a statement on its website: "The Football Association of Wales are sad to announce the death of the national team manager Gary Speed.

"We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family. We ask that everyone respects the family's privacy at this very sad time."

Mr Goss said: 'I played alongside Gary Speed in all 12 internationals that I played for Wales, and I am numb to hear the news. Heartbroken.'

Goss learnt of Speed's death as he finished walking the Larken Gowing half marathon on behalf of the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind.

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'He was not only a fantastic player, he was a gentleman and an exceptional role model in this day and age. He led by example and so many young players looked up to him, along with established players like Ian Rush and Mark Hughes.

'All of us will be shattered, not least people like Mark Bowen who was very close to him. Most recently, as manager of Wales, he had turned the side around and the future for Welsh football looked really bright with him at the helm.'

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Former Norwich City player Mark Bowen, who played alongside Speed for Wales for almost 10 years, told the BBC's The World this Weekend that he was a 'team-mate you could always rely on'.

He said: 'It's a very sad day. Even now there is a numbness about it. We can't believe it.

'It should be highlighted in his chosen profession what he actually did. He had a fantastic career as player and as a manager and a coach. It almost seems to pale into insignificance as what it means to his wife and two boys.

'He was actually a captain of the team when there were a lot of older, senior players in the squad at the same time - the likes of Mark Hughes and Ian Rush. That shows you the measure of the man.

'Having played with him he was a player, a team-mate you could always rely on. He'd be there for you.

'He was an uncomplicated character and as a player and he took those traits into management. He had a long career ahead of him.'

A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said: "At 7.08am today, Cheshire Police was informed of a sudden death at an address in Huntington, Chester.

"Officers went to the scene where a 42-year-old man was found dead. The next of kin have been informed and have confirmed the identity of the man as Gary Speed.

"There are no suspicious circumstances."

The former Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton footballer was appointed manager of Wales in December 2010. He had retired as a player in May 2010.

H His last game as manager was on November 12 when the team won 4-1 in a friendly against Norway.

Speed had appeared on BBC1's Football Focus show yesterday afternoon, the broadcaster confirmed.

Speed, who was made an MBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours for his services to football, leaves a wife and two children.

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