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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 22, 2006

Allardyce hails veteran midfielder Speed

Sam Allardyce has hailed Gary Speed as the ideal role model for the modern professional.

Despite reaching the ripe old age of 36, Speed has been handed a new two-year contract by Bolton, reward for two seasons of outstanding service since his arrival from Newcastle.

The Wales international has been a major influence behind successive top-10 finishes for the Trotters.

And Allardyce believes there is plenty to be learned from the way Speed has looked after his body throughout an illustrious career which now almost spans three decades.

'Gary is a role model,' said Allardyce. 'His professionalism, attitude and sheer love for the game is obvious for all to see.

'It is great credit to Gary, and the way he has looked after himself, that he is still able to operate effectively, in the most physically demanding league in the world, at the tender age of 36.

'He deserves this two-year contract purely because of what he has done over his previous two years with us.

'Hopefully, he will continue to help us be a success in the Premiership.'

As one of only 12 senior outfield players available to Allardyce, Speed is virtually guaranteed a place in Bolton's starting line-up to face Fulham at Craven Cottage tomorrow.

Such a chronic lack of numbers is one of the major reasons why the Bolton boss remains active in the transfer market as the August 31 deadline inches closer.

Allardyce is confident of completing a £8million move for Nicolas Anelka at some stage over the next week, even though Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim is dragging his heels over the deal.

Having already plied his trade with three English clubs in Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, much is already known, not just of Anelka's abilities, but also his problematic attitude.

Yet Allardyce is convinced he can head off any potential problems with the French striker.

'I want to be presented with a player who has great ability, great strengths and is top quality,' said the Bolton chief.

'If there is a side of his character that sometimes causes you concern then you have to learn about that side as much, if not more, than the good side.

'You find out why an individual behaves and reacts the way they do.

'If you are a good manager, and I believe I am, you believe you can deal with it before it becomes a problem.'