Tragic Speed has left us all wondering why?

Former Wales manager Gary Speed
Former Wales manager Gary Speed
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Who can possibly know the mental demons which led the universally-liked and respected Gary Speed to take his own life at the age of just 42?

Not even his closest friends and confidantes appear to have detected even a hint of a troubled mind or soul.

Speed appeared to have everything.

But, clearly, appearances can be deceptive.

He had a beautiful wife and family, a lovely home and a highly-promising start as manager of a revitalised Wales team.

Football people everywhere held him in the highest regard after a stellar playing career in which he won a league title medal at Leeds and was the first player to reach 500 Premier League appearances.

In my few dealings with Gary as a commentator, I always found him helpful, charming and friendly.

He was clearly bright and was apparently always first with quiz answers and helped office staff with The Times crossword.

And yet, like the famous Stevie Smith poem, perhaps Gary Speed ‘was not waving but drowning’.

I am reminded, too, of a haunting Simon and Garfunkel track about a tycoon called Richard Corrie who owned ‘half the town’ and was envied for his ‘fame, wealth and style’.

It ends with the line: ‘Imagine my amazement when the evening headlines read Richard Corrie went home last night and put a bullet through his head’.

Gary Speed’s death, more tragic than a mere song lyric, has a similar air of mystery.

Were there self-doubts which were never articulated?

Was he, like several sports stars before him, having trouble coping without the daily dressing room banter and routine of being a professional footballer?

Life as an international manager, remember, tends to include long spells without a match – especially during the barren spell between early November and late February.

But the reasons for Speed’s suicide can be only guesswork at this stage.

Perhaps further clues will be revealed in the days ahead.

It is, of course, shocking news and a sad, sad loss which has left us all wondering: Why, Gary?