Sam remembers Gary Speed

The manager has given his personal tribute to close friend Gary Speed after he passed away on Sunday

I would first like to start with a word for Louise and the boys, his parents, family, close friends. My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with them at this moment in time. They are the ones left behind. It is a very difficult time for them and they will need support to cope with this huge shock.

Gary Speed, the footballer, was someone held in the highest regard because of his outstanding career over many, many years holding the record number of Premier League outfieldappearances until it was broken by his good friend Ryan Giggs.

For me to talk about him is as a man and a human being. That is the most important thing. He joined me at Bolton Wanderers in what some would say was the twilight of his career but he gave the club so much in what was a hugely successful period.

Often when you sign an older professional, they might question new methods such as taking on fluids, nutrition, ice baths, cryotherapy, recovery periods and yoga.

Gary would have a go and take it all on board. He became the icon for all the other players at the club for new techniques. They saw if it was good enough for Gary, it was good enough for them.

As a leader on and off the pitch, he would always want to learn and question. He had an aura that when he came into a room people always instantly wanted to listen to what he might have to say.

I kept in touch with him when he moved on to the coaching and management side. We would talk about the structure and philosophies that we both believed in. As he developed as a coach and manager, his strong beliefs and abilities was just beginning to shine through for Wales until his life sadly came to an abrupt end.

Many, many people have rang in the last day or two and we are all trying to understand what has happened but of course we can't.

Here at my club, lots of people had great affection for him, including my goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson who was recommended to me by Gary last summer.

Jack Collison had great support from Gary after the death of his father and as he coped with his injury. Kevin Nolan, Abdoulaye Faye, Joey O'Brien and my assistant manager Neil McDonald were all very close to him in those good times at Bolton. We will all miss him immensely.

Rest in peace Gary.

Sam Allardyce