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Former Wales Assistant Manager Osian Roberts talks about coming to terms with the death of Gary Speed

10 Jan 2024 3 minute read
The mural of Gary Speed in Cardiff (Credit: Nation Cymru)

In an interview for the new S4C series Taith Bywyd (Life Journey), Osian Roberts says that it’s difficult to think back to period of Gary Speed’s death, and that he has tried to deal with the loss internally.

Gary Speed, former Wales captain who was manager of the national team at the time, died by suicide on the 27th of November 2011.

In the first episode of the series, which aired on S4C on 7 January but is available now on S4C clic, Osian Roberts goes on a journey to meet the people who changed his life and those who influenced his career.

Osian talks openly with the programme’s presenter Owain Williams about the loss of one of his friends, and someone who transformed his life, Gary Speed.

A huge loss

He said: “When he became the team manager, I didn’t expect him to pick up the phone and ask me to come and help him – it was a bit of a surprise – and the only thing on my mind was ‘how can I help Gary to be successful.”

Osian Roberts & Owain Williams

“It was a huge loss because I was losing a friend, someone very close. When that happens, it’s a huge shock and I’ve probably battled with those feelings ever since. I’m a man who likes to prepare for things and this was a period where I couldn’t…It’s happened before you know it. Since then, I’ve just tried to deal with it internally – I’m not sure if it’s the right way but that’s the way I’ve tried to deal with it. And at times, it’s hard to think about that period of time because we lost a very special man.

“The hardest game for me was the memorial game for Gary Speed. And I was the Manager of the team. I can’t remember anything about the result or the game – the football was secondary that night. Ashley Williams telling me at half time ‘Osh, I can’t run. I can’t feel my legs.’ The boys, psychologically, were gone.

“I remember Gary’s father coming to me before the game and asking ‘Osh, can Ed and Tommy come in and speak to the players before the game?’ And Ed spoke to the players in the changing room saying, ‘This is what my Dad wanted, he’s so proud of you.’ The players were in tears in the changing room. It was such an emotional night, and my only goal was to at least make sure that the family felt it was a night that Gary would’ve been proud of.

Star lineup

In the episode, Osian Roberts will meet former Wales midfielder Joe Ledley and receives a video message from former France and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, who has become one of Osian’s friends after attending his football coaching course.

Others taking part in the series are actress Sian Reese-Williams, broadcaster Jason Mohammad, influencer and presenter Jess Davies, musician, guitarist and S4C cycling pundit Peredur ap Gwynedd, and former Member of Parliament and campaigner Sian James.

Each one will meet individuals who have been there through the good days and the difficult times. But none of them know who they’ll meet, or where they’re going next.

You can catch up on this episode, which is available with English subtitles, on S4C Clic here.


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