Soccer Star's Suicide Prompts Pros to Seek Addiction Help

By Will Godfrey 11/30/11

The death of Wales national coach Gary Speed has causes shock and introspection in British soccer.

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Gary Speed was appointed Wales manager
in December 2010.
Photo via

The shocking suicide of a popular figure in British soccer last weekend has prompted at least five other professional soccer players to contact Sporting Chance—a clinic that assists UK sportspeople with addiction and depression—in the last few days. Gary Speed, the 42-year-old rookie coach of the Wales national soccer team, was found hanging by his wife in the garage of their family home in Cheshire Sunday morning. Speed's playing career in top-level English soccer lasted over 20 years, and saw him playing midfield for Premier League clubs like Newcastle, Everton and Bolton and for his country; he moved into full-time coaching last year. He guested on a BBC soccer TV show the day before his death and had recently recorded three successive victories as Wales boss. He had no reported problems with addiction, depression or family life, and leaves two young sons. His death has stunned British soccer. Silences have been held before games and tributes have flooded in from politicians such as Prime Minister David Cameron, and soccer stars like Welsh wingers Ryan Giggs of Manchester Utd and Gareth Bale of Tottenham. The news that fellow pros have sought help since offers hope that the tragic death will encourage members of a notoriously macho culture to request treatment for more than just physical injuries. The Sporting Chance clinic was co-founded in 2000 by former Arsenal captain and recovering alcoholic Tony Adams.

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.