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Nov 29, 2011

Shearer distraught as inquest opens

An inquest will be opened at the coroner's court at Warrington Town Hall on Tuesday into the death of Gary Speed at his home in Cheshire.

Robbie Savage remembers Gary Speed

• Gary Speed dead aged 42
• Family 'overwhelmed' by support
• McAllister: No sign of depression
• Wilkinson on 'tragic loss'
• Gary Speed profile
• Gary Speed gallery

Wales manager Speed, 42, was found hanged on Sunday morning. He leaves a wife, Louise, and two teenage boys.

Leeds United, where Speed won the league title in 1992, play away to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday evening. The supporters will begin singing his name in the 11th minute for 11 minutes in memory of their former number 11.

Alan Shearer and his family were very close to the Speeds, socialising and going on holiday together, and they are in total disbelief at the news having arranged to have dinner this weekend.

His agent, Hayden Evans, has insisted the player did not suffer from depression and had no problems in his family life. He thinks the reasons for Speed committing suicide may never be known.

Shearer told The Sun: "The question I keep asking myself and have done since I heard the dreadful news is 'Why? Why Speedo, didn't you give me or one of your other close mates a ring, if you were feeling so bad?'

"Why he couldn't have picked up the phone for a chat in those moments before he did what he did, I'll never know. None of us will. I was with him on Saturday watching the Stoke game and arranging next weekend.

"He was coming up with his wife to stay at my house. We were going to various charity dinners. I left the studio, shook his hand and said: 'See you next weekend'. Unfortunately I won't.

"This just doesn't happen to one of your best mates. My wife is in bits. We just keep thinking of Louise, the two boys and his mum and dad. I can't imagine the pain they're going through. I can't get my head around the fact I was with him and he was happy, joking.

"We were having a laugh and joke about golf trips and holidays that we went on together last year. We were planning our next holiday in Portugal next summer with the families and the kids.

"I played against him many times, but when Kenny Dalglish signed him for Newcastle straight away we struck up a relationship. You're bound to have arguments along the way in football - but no one ever did with Gary. No one had a bad word for him. He was what you'd describe as a proper bloke, a proper man. You could depend on him."

Hartson: "Wales is in total shock"

Evans added in The Sun: "She [Louise] doesn't understand it. They were happily married. It's a mystery. They were happily married and anyone who knows them will tell you that. This is why it's a mystery.

"We genuinely at the moment have no clue whatsoever what has caused it and I have been with the family all day. Everybody is asking the same question and no one has an answer. We are all in shock."

When asked if Speed was depressed, Evans added: "The one thing the family and me as one of his closest friends would totally refute is that. There was no indication of any problems and never has been."

The Sporting Chance Clinic, which looks to help professional sportsmen suffering from alcohol addiction, drug abuse and depression, has been contacted by five footballers for help following the news of Speed's tragic death.

Chief Executive Peter Kay told the Daily Express: "I've received emails and phone calls from five players since Gary Speed's passing, all of whom have said, 'I have got to do something about this. I need help'. It is fair to say Gary's death has prompted them to ask for help.

"Actually admitting you need help is one of the hardest and bravest decisions to make and at the clinic we will do all we can to try and get their lives back together."

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, speaking during a press conference looking ahead to the Europa League meeting with PAOK, said: "Like everyone involved in football there's been nothing else you can think about all weekend.

"Ever since I heard the news on Sunday I just can't get it out of mind. It's unbelievable. A lad I've never heard anyone say a bad word about, everyone loved him. The most unlikely lad you can ever see doing something like that. It's beyond belief. Unbelievable.

"I was with Gary a few weeks back - I managed a team in a charity game for Hartson. He managed a Welsh team of ex players and celebrities, I did an England team.

"We had a great night at Derby and raised some money for John's charity. Gary played, looked like he could still play - he never stopped running around. He was like a 20-year-old. He was in such great condition and he was a great guy.

"We talked about Wales, how well he'd got them playing. He got them playing so well. They were great at Wembley, had a fantastic couple of results recently, he got them playing the way he wanted.

"They were passing it from the back, he got them moving it around well. They looked fantastic. It was like there was something special happening with the Welsh team. It must be a massive blow to all those boys who worked with him.''

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has urged players to ask for help with any issues which concern them.

"We have players all the time who come to us needing help. It is part of our job,'' he said. "The delicate thing is making sure everyone is aware and they can have confidence with the confidentiality element.

"It does need them to have the courage to ask for help and when they do that it makes it easier to break through the barrier. It has brought into people's minds the problems footballers deal with.

"I want people to know there is a support and counselling system there because we want to do all we can to prevent things like this happening again. We have have a very close liaison with - and subsidise - the Sporting Chance clinic and we also have trained PFA counsellors.

"Only this season we brought out a booklet on mental health issues and different problems. We have been working for some time on issues of depression and mental health and other, addictive, problems.

"This is not something which is happening just now, it is something we have been addressing.''

The Football Association of Wales council will not hold talks over finding a successor for Gary Speed when they meet on Thursday.

Reports had suggested that Thursday's meeting would include tentative talks over finding the man to fill the void left by the death of Speed. But it is understood that the FAW consider any discussions of such a nature to be highly insensitive given that Speed's funeral has yet to take place, with any deliberations set to be put on hold until at least the next council meeting in late December.

Wales do not have a game until a planned friendly in February, against as yet unnamed opposition.

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