The life and times of Gary Speed

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Gary Speed took over at Sheffield United earlier this week in what seemed to be an inevitable transition for the former Premier League record appearance holder.

It’s been a long known fact that Speed was interested in football management, and he now gets his chance after taking over from Kevin Blackwell at Bramall Lane.

Speed 40, was born in Mancot, Wales and started his career at Leeds United, making his debut on May 6, 1989 in a 0-0 draw with Oldham in the old Second Division. He was 19 years-old.

In the 1989-1990 season, Gary made 25 appearances for Leeds and was a pivotal figure as United gained promotion to the old First Division. He also earned his first Welsh cap in May 1990 against Costa Rica.

In Leeds’ first season back in the top flight, Speed made 38 appearances as Leeds finished 4th. In the 1991-1992 season, Speed missed only one game and was a major driving force in Leeds United’s last top flight championship victory.

In all, Gary made 248 appearances for the Whites before moving to Joe Royle’s Everton in 1996 for £3.5 million pounds.

Whilst major honours eluded Speed at Everton, he was again a main fixture in a top Premier League side and was named Everton club captain towards the end of his time at the club.

That time came in 1998, when Bobby Robson took Speed to Newcastle United for £5.5 million pounds where Gary played in two FA Cup finals 1998 and 1999 and also in the UEFA Champions League in 2002-2003.

In 2004, at the age of 35, Sam Allardyce brought Speed to Bolton Wanderers for £750,000 in a bargain deal, and Gary decided to retire from International Football after 85 caps for Wales to concentrate on keeping Bolton in the Premier League, which he did for four seasons.

During his time at Bolton, Speed picked up a League Cup runners-up medal and became the first man in history to amass 500 Premier League appearances, setting a unprecedented bench mark for others to follow.

But in January 2008, after 535 games in the Premier League, Speed moved to Sheffield United and out of the top flight for the first time in 18 season’s in a player-coach capacity.

Speed played 37 times for Sheffield United, scoring six goals, and has now been handed the task of getting the Blades to the promised land of the Premier League. One thing you know you will get from Gary Speed is 100 per cent effort and commitment.

Gary Speed made 677 appearances in his league career, scoring 103 times and was capped 85 times for Wales scoring 7 goals.

The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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Gary Speed
Sheffield United

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