Former Wales soccer manager Gary Speed may have killed himself by accident, a judicial investigation concluded on Monday.
The 42-year-old father of two, who played for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United, was found hanged by his wife at their home in Cheshire, England, on Nov. 27.
An inquest into his death ruled on Monday that Speed died by hanging, but the coroner, Nicholas Rheinberg, said: “The evidence does not sufficiently determine whether this was intentional or accidental.”
Recording a narrative verdict, which does not apportion blame, the coroner said Speed may have “nodded off” while sitting with a cable around his neck on the stairs in the garage of his home.
Earlier, Speed’s wife Louise had told the hearing that she had a text conversation with him four days before he died in which he talked about taking his own life, but that he then dismissed it.
She said the text referred to their “ups and downs,” but expressed excitement at the future with her and their two sons, speaking of “how important the boys were” and about “moving forward.”
Louise Speed also told Warrington Coroner’s Court that the couple had argued the night before he died, after returning home from a dinner party.
“We walked in the house, and we had an exchange of words about something and nothing,” she said.
After their argument on the eve of his death, Louise Speed said she decided to go for a drive to clear her mind.
She returned soon after, but could not get into the house or contact Gary Speed, so she slept in the car.
She woke up at about 6am and it was shortly after that that she saw Gary through the garage window.
She woke up the children to open the house and called the emergency services.
Speed was found hanging from a banister in the garage with a piece of television aerial, the hearing heard. His wife said no note or message had been left.
The hearing heard that the Welsh national team’s doctor reported that Speed had showed no signs of stress and depression.
Bob Muggleton, the medical officer at Sheffield United — the club Speed managed before he took on the Wales job — told the inquest no mental issues were raised in the time he had worked with Speed until 2010.
The death stunned the world of soccer and prompted an outpouring of tributes at his former clubs, especially at Leeds, where he won the English championship in 1992.
After the inquest ruling, his family spoke of their heartbreak at losing him.
“Gary’s death and the manner of it made Sunday 27th November, 2011, the worst day of our lives,” the family said in a statement read on their behalf by Richard Bevan of the League Managers’ Association. “Throughout the nine weeks since there have been some very dark moments which we have all had to find our different ways to endure. Now we have to adapt to the future without a husband, a father, a brother and a son, but Gary’s memory shines brightly in our thoughts and we will forever remember the wonderful times we shared with him.”