Gary Speed’s widow”We argued, about something or nothing next morning his body hanging in the garage”"
Gary Speed’s widow revealed yesterday that she had a row with him the night before he was found hanged.Louise Speed, 41, told the inquest into the Wales football manager’s death that she ended up sleeping in her car.She fought back tears as she described how she went looking for him the following morning and saw his body through their garage window.Mrs Speed, mother of two teenage sons, said her 42-year-old husband had sent her a text message four days earlier, threatening to commit suicide, before referring to ‘moving forward and how me and the boys were so important to him’.
Nevertheless, Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg ruled that it was not clear Speed had intended to take his own life, saying his death could have been an accident and recording a narrative verdict.He said the former Premier League star might have been sitting on a staircase with a loop of cable around his neck, intending it as a ‘dramatic gesture’ for when his wife came in, but had inadvertently ‘nodded off’.
The hearing – which lasted less than two hours – also failed to address the cause of unspecified long-running problems in the couple’s 15-year marriage.A statement by former England star Alan Shearer disclosed that Speed had confided about ‘issues’ in their relationship, but again no details were given. Mrs Speed told the hearing in Warrington that her husband, an MBE, had always been a ‘closed’ and ‘private person.They had spent the evening before his death at a high-spirited dinner party held by friends, which ended with Speed being playfully pushed into the swimming pool, fully clothed.
The coroner described their behaviour as ‘over-boisterous’ but Mrs Speed said that was ‘quite normal’ and the evening had been ‘all good fun’.They took a taxi back to their £1.5million home, Huntington Hall, near Chester. Arriving at about 1am, she said, they had an ‘exchange of words about something or nothing – I can’t even remember what it was.‘At that point I suggested I would go for a drive. He blocked the back door and said, “You are not going anywhere”.
It was the last time she saw him alive. After going upstairs for a few minutes she went out in the car ‘to clear my mind’, returning at about 1.30am.The court heard she had left the house through a ‘self-locking’ side door and found herself shut out so she slept in the car.Struggling to contain her emotions, she described walking to the rear of the house at about 7am and seeing her husband’s body suspended above stairs through the garage window.
After a brief pause to recover her composure, she said: ‘I could see him on the stairs. His toes were in contact with the step.’Unable to get in, she rushed to the house to wake up their sons and find the remote control to open the garage door.She cut her husband down on the instructions of the emergency services, but paramedics were unable to revive him.
The inquest was told that Speed’s long playing career with clubs including Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United ended through injury in 2009.He went into management, first with Sheffield United and then Wales, which put ‘something of a strain on him’.
His wife said the long periods of separation when he was away in Cardiff – where he had a flat – or on matches abroad were difficult for them both.‘Like all couples we would be going through ups and downs in our marriage and we were working through it.’ The inquest heard there was no evidence of depression or previous threats of self-harm, but Mrs Speed admitted that her husband had always been ‘a somewhat closed character’. She added: ‘He liked to take on board everyone else’s problems and try to help but was not one to open up himself.’
In his statement, BBC pundit Shearer, a close friend and former team-mate of Speed at Newcastle, said they had bumped into one another at the BBC studios in Salford on November 26. Speed had been appearing on Football Focus while Shearer was preparing for Match of the Day.