Following the sad news of the death of Wales manager and Premiership legend Gary Speed in a death which shocked the football world today Harry Redknapp had a chance to comment.
Thanks to Absolute Radio who provided the transcript of Harry’s comments:
Harry Redknapp: Following the Sad News about the Death of Gary Speed (27 Nov 2011)
TS: Tania Snuggs
HR: Harry Redknapp
HR: You know, I got a phonecall on the golf course to tell me about the sad news. I just couldn’t take in. You know, to be honest with you, I didn’t want to play golf any more, it just finished it. Like most people, you know, who knew Gary, it sort of just finished your day. I just couldn’t get it through my head that that had happened, it just didn’t seem possible, didn’t seem possible.
TS: And did you know Gary well or at all?
HR: Yeah, I’d come across him, you know, loads of times, and recently we had a charity football match with John Hartson, and John was raising money for his charity. You know, John hadn’t been too well and John was a Welsh International, he played with Gary many times, and we had a match at Derby County Football Ground. John had a Welsh team and he managed that team, and I managed the English team. It was a team of ex-players and celebrities, and Gary played in the game, never stopped running around, like he was so fit. It’s just unbelievable, a super-fit lad, you know, and we all had a drink after and had a chat and a laugh and he seemed… everything was going right for him. He’s got the Wales team playing fantastic football suddenly and they’re moving forward, we’ve got some great young players, and his life, you know, to everybody on the outside his life, his future looked so fantastic.
TS: And how do you think he’ll be remembered, Harry, because he was one of the most capped players, the most capped player for his country, over 750 Premier League appearances? I mean, he’s got a fantastic career hasn’t he, he had a fantastic career?
HR: Yeah, he’ll be remembered as a great footballer, but I think most importantly he’ll be remembered as a fantastic boy and a great human being. As I say, I’ve never, ever heard anybody ever say a bad word about Gary Speed. There’s always somebody who doesn’t like you, but I’ve never met anybody that didn’t like Gary, he was just so popular with everybody, just such a nice person.
TS: And Alan Shearer, who of course played alongside Gary at Newcastle for six years, said that Gary was a magnificent person, bright, fun, and a wonderful family man. He leaves two little boys behind doesn’t he.
HR: Yeah, yeah. I was talking to somebody today who was at a game recently and he had his little boy with him. I just [gasps]… it’s such a shock, I just can’t get my head round it at all today, you know? Just don’t seem possible, don’t seem possible. You know, such a bright young guy, you know, with everything in front of him, everything to live for, he’s been a fantastic footballer and now he looks like becoming a great manager and coach. I don’t know, you know, who knows what goes on in people’s minds, we just don’t know do we, and I think that when you do see… I didn’t see any signals with Gary, what I saw of him yesterday, so it was hard for anybody obviously to help him when there were no distress signals coming out from him. On Football Focus with Gary McAllister, who’s a great friend of his, they were chatting away and he was bright as ever. You know, listening to Robbie Savage tonight on the radio as well, Robbie obviously was a great friend of his, Gordon Strachan. There’s so many people, you know, that will be absolutely… you know, apart from his family. I just think everybody who ever came in contact with Gary, played with him or worked with him, they just loved him. I’ve not met anybody who didn’t think the world of him.
TS: Absolutely, and even the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has come out today and talked about his sadness at hearing the news.
TS: So the death of Gary Speed has touched a lot of people, and not just in the footballing world.
HR: No, he looked to be the perfect, you know, a great role model for any young person. You know, he was always clean-cut, a family man, great footballer, lived right, looked after himself. Smart guy, smart lad, and just a fantastic person. So no, it really has… obviously it’s affected an awful lot of people today, its sad news.
TS: And earlier, just before the game between Swansea and Aston Villa, a minute’s silence turned into a minute’s applause. I spoke to Wrighty earlier and he welcomed that, because from the fans, to go from a silence, it was good to see them applauding the career of Gary Speed.
HR: Hmm. Yeah, as I say, he had a great career, he was a great player, and he will always be remembered as a great player, but I think, as I say, the most important thing, far more important than football, is to be a good human being, and that’s what he always came across to me, as being a fantastic person.
TS: Alright. Well listen, Harry, thank you so much…
HR: Thank you very much.
TS: …for taking the time to talk to me.
HR: Our condolences certainly go out to his family, you know, most important of all.