Wales coach Chris Coleman pays tribute to the late Gary Speed
Wales coach Chris Coleman says Gary Speed will never be forgotten as football mourns the first anniversary of his death.
Last Updated: 27/11/12 10:57am
Former Wales, Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United midfielder Speed died at the age of 42 a year ago, prompting a huge outpouring of grief from within the game.
Speed had overseen a run of four wins in five games as Wales boss, and his former team-mate and friend Coleman has faced the unenviable task of replacing him.
The former Fulham boss admits Welsh football is still coming to terms with the loss of such a popular and respected figure.
"Forget the football, Gary was a great guy, different class," said Coleman.
"I was lucky enough to have known him for a long time. He's greatly missed - I still miss him. I will always miss him.
"I can't believe it's a year ago. You don't ever forget something like that. I will probably never get over it. You try to deal with it as time goes on.
"But you don't forget someone like Gary. We never will.
"It will be a difficult day and Christmas will be difficult for his family, but we are all here to support them."
Since Speed's death Wales have secured just one win, the World Cup qualifying defeat of Scotland last month.
And Coleman is more aware than most of the challenge his squad have faced in trying to get over the loss of their former manager.
He said: "I think people forget about the players. People just think they have to go out and get results. Of course, Gary's death was bound to have affected them.
"Players hold a lot of their emotions in. The dressing room is not the place where you show emotion.
"You hide everything. They will have dealt with it in their own time and space. It's been very hard for them and the players have handled it really well.
"You can't prepare for something like that because you don't think it will ever happen. When it happens it is a massive shock and surprise."
In a statement released on Tuesday, Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford added: "We not only lost the National Team Manager, we also lost a friend and colleague.
"Our thoughts today, as they are every day, are with Gary's family - his wife Louise, sons Ed and Tom, his parents Roger and Carol and his sister Lesley."