Tyne & Wear

Newcastle United fans pay tribute to Gary Speed

Alan Shearer comforts Gary Speed's mother
Image caption Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer comforted Gary Speed's mother

Newcastle United fans paid an emotional tribute to former player Gary Speed.

Welsh opera singer Gwyn Hughes Jones led the fans in a rendition of Bread of Heaven before the kick off in their home tie against Swansea.

He was joined in the centre circle by members of Speed's family and former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer.

The song was followed by a minute's applause and fans in the East Stand held up cards which picked out Speed's number 11 shirt from his Tyneside days.

As well as the applause, fans chanted Speed's name.

On the 11th minute of the game, fans chanted his name again and waved their black and white scarves.

The 42-year-old was found hanged at his home in Cheshire last month.

Image caption Fans sang Bread of Heaven and some held Wales flags in Speed's honour

The tribute was originally planned before Newcastle's match against Chelsea two weeks ago but was delayed at the request of Speed's widow Louise.

She was at the game with her sons and the player's parents.

Speaking before the match, Magpies manager Alan Pardew said fans were keen to let Speed's family know how highly they thought of him.

He said: "Louise and the family are coming and we are very conscious that we do it in the correct and proper manner and give them a tribute they can proud of.

"We want to do a tribute that brings honour to Gary's name and, in my opinion, there is no-one better to do that than people from the North East.

"I'm sure our fans will let Gary's wife know how we feel about him."

Image caption Gary Speed made 285 appearances for Newcastle United

Speed made 285 appearances and scored 40 goals for the Magpies during a six-and-a-half-year spell with the club.

He took over the Wales job in December 2010, despite only having four months' managerial experience.

Speed began his playing career at Leeds United after coming through the trainee ranks, and was part of the side that won the last Football League title in 1992, before the introduction of the Premier League.

He retired from international duty in 2004, after captaining Wales 44 times and scoring seven goals.

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