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By ESPN Staff

Speed death prompts PFA campaign

The Professional Footballers' Association is to extend the circulation of its booklet on handling depression and make it available to all 50,000 ex-professionals as the game responds to Gary Speed's death.

The PFA had sent out the 36-page booklet at the start of the season to its 4,000 members, partly in response to the deaths of Rushden and Diamonds goalkeeper Dale Roberts and Germany international goalkeeper Robert Enke.

It is not known whether Speed was suffering depression but PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said the organisation has now decided to extend the circulation of the leaflet, which includes case studies on suffering the condition provided by Andy Cole, Neil Lennon and Paul Gascoigne.

"There has been a tremendous outpouring of emotion this week, an indication that Gary was regarded as one of our finest," Taylor said. "This booklet went out at the beginning of the season after the deaths of Robert Enke and Dale Roberts, and after what has happened with Gary we have decided to widen its circulation and let people know there is a support system out there for them to turn to.

"Mental problems have to be treated with understanding. Players can have panic attacks, fail to come terms with leaving football, finishing as a player, or the pressures of being a manager. We want to do all we can to try to avoid another tragedy like this.''

Two of Speed's former clubs have announced plans for formal tributes to the 42-year-old, who was found hanged at his family home in Cheshire on Sunday.

Leeds' travelling support at Tuesday's game with Nottingham Forest chanted Speed's name for 11 minutes from the 11th minute, inspired by his usual shirt number at Elland Road - and the club will name an East Stand suite in honour of their title-winning midfielder.

Newcastle, meanwhile, confirmed their official programme for the match against Chelsea on Saturday will carry a picture of Speed on the front cover and contain a four-page tribute to the former Magpie.

Before kick-off, a singer will lead the 52,000-capacity crowd in a rendition of the Welsh hymn, Bread of Heaven.

A club statement added: "Whilst the hymn is sung supporters in the East Stand will be asked to hold up black and white cards which will depict the number 11, the shirt number Gary wore whilst at United.

"All supporters will be provided with hymn sheets on their seats in order to join in the singing. Upon completion of the hymn, a minute's applause will be observed in memory of Gary.''


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