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28 November 2020 02:39

Jonas Lössl Everton F.C. Huddersfield Town A.F.C.

The agent represented former Newcastle United midfielder and Welsh international, Gary Speed, throughout his career. By the time Speed had told Evans he had bought the new instrument, he'd already learnt some of Oasis' back catalogue. Evans was also there for the bad times, of course, and it was the agent who made a statement on behalf of the family outside their Cheshire home after Speed took his own life on November 27, 2011. Nine years on, Evans is the first to admit that he was 'extremely naive' not to think that Speed was depressed because his friend was 'larger than life and always had a smile on his face'. Speed's death, naturally, left friends and family with so many questions which, ultimately, will never be answered.

There were no obvious signs and, naturally, it is only with the benefit of hindsight that Evans has taken note of a once seemingly insignificant detail from Speed's move from Newcastle to Bolton in 2004. "You sort of look back then and you see certain things that he wanted to do or did do that appealed to him that were a little bit out of character but tell you a bigger story now," Evans said. Speed had not planned to leave Newcastle and although a deal was in place for the Magpies to sign Nicky Butt, the midfielder's move to Bolton came as a huge shock to manager Sir Bobby Robson. Evans had developed 'a bit of a relationship' with chairman Freddy Shepherd - another client, David Batty, had joined the Magpies two years before Speed - but the agent still does not know why the club sold the Welshman above Sir Bobby's head. "Gary came from the same mould as David [Batty] in that the minute there's an indication that you're not wanted, whether that's from upstairs or the gaffer, there's no pleading to stay or trying to work a deal out or anything else.

As well as being a talented footballer, Speed's professionalism, leadership qualities and personality also made him a priceless figure in the dressing room. Tellingly, Speed was one of the first names on the team sheet under three different managers during his time at Newcastle. Speed took the good and bad from all of them when he became a manager in his own right with Sheffield United and Wales, and Sir Kenny Dalglish and Sir Bobby certainly had an influence on his plans after retirement. "Gary had been very lucky, particularly at Newcastle, to have Kenny and Bobby Robson, who were two fantastic managers to work under," Evans said. As a coach and ultimately a manager, his time under Kenny and definitely Robson proved to him that's what he wanted to do.

Speed formed lifelong friendships with a number of his team-mates at Newcastle and the midfielder and his wife, Louise, regularly socialised with Alan Shearer, Shay Given, Warren Barton, Rob Lee and their partners. Speed may have received hate mail after leaving boyhood club Everton - the Toffees even installed steel shutters to protect the players' entrance ahead of his return to Goodison Park - but his time at Newcastle proved one of the happiest spells of his career. "I knew I could trust Freddy and they wanted Gary the first time round when he went to Everton so they had always monitored the situation," Evans said. "When you are a player with the integrity that Gary had, normally a club knows and a manager certainly knows that if he goes and says, 'I want to leave', it's not for money or any other reason than he feels it's the right time." Of course, it goes without saying that Everton supporters will join Newcastle fans and followers of Speed's former clubs in paying tribute to the Welshman on the ninth anniversary of his death. "I always remember the good times with Gary," Evans added. Get the latest Leeds United news delivered straight to your inbox each day - sign up for free email updates Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email People talk about footballers as if they exist on a higher plane, when they are really just mere mortals like the rest of us. As a footballer, you would describe Gary Speed as the ultimate professional, or a manager's dream. Gary Speed signed associate schoolboy forms for Leeds United as a 14-year-old. At 18, Speed was given his debut in a late-season dead rubber versus Oldham, a year later he had already played a critical part in releasing Leeds United from their Second Division purgatory. And there was no looking back for Gary Speed. Gary Speed, David Batty, this team, to this youngster, were not normal. Speed reached double figures in goals from midfield in four consecutive seasons from 1990/91 to 1993/94, in the meantime adapting his abilities to become the central midfield partner to Gary McAllister, and adding maturity and responsibility to his game. Leeds fans were robbed of Speed's peak years, but the memories are still fond ones, and the images portray the happiest times watching an all-action hero performing to the very best of his much-honed abilities. Yes, Gary Speed was the ultimate professional. He was the hero we all looked up to, the footballer and the person we all wanted to be. It would be wrong to suggest we shouldn't hero worship footballers and put them on a pedestal, because life is all about dreams and you couldn't have a better person to look up to than Gary Speed. Tributes have been paid to the late Gary Speed on the 9th anniversary of his death. The 42-year-old, who played for clubs including Newcastle United, Leeds, Sheffield and Everton, was found dead at his home in November 2011. Rob Lee played with Gary Speed at Newcastle United and reflected on his time with the midfielder during their spell together playing for the Magpies.