West Ham’s Jack aims to make Gary Speed proud

Wales international midfielder Jack Collison is hoping his team can pay tribute to the late Gary Speed at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday night

West Ham’s Wales international Jack Collison insists that they should do all they can to make former boss Gary Speed proud of them, starting with a match in his honour on Wednesday night.

The Wales manager was found dead at his home back in November, aged just 42 and the news hit Collison as hard as anyone who knew him.

“We were all at the training ground when we heard the news,” said the 23-year-old midfielder who will be hoping to play a part in Wednesday’s international friendly with Costa Rica at the Cardiff City FC Stadium.

“Obviously Kevin Nolan and the West Ham manager (Sam Allardyce) were very close to him and they received the news first, but the way it echoed around our training ground, I can imagine it was like that throughout football.

“Wednesday is going to be a massive night. Losing Gary Speed was a massive loss, not just as a manager, but he was a great man.

“There was an aura around him. When he spoke, people listened,” said Collison. “He didn’t need to shout or scream at you, but you listened and you can see the way the Welsh boys had been playing for him.”

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Chris Coleman takes the managerial reins at Wales for the first time against Costa Rica, but Collison believes that the team will still be playing for Speed.

“The way Gary turned round the Welsh team, the boys had been on fire and now it is up to us to take it forward and make him proud because at the end of the day he would have wanted us to qualify for the World Cup,” said the West Ham man.

“He is a massive loss, not just for us, but for the whole of football and it is up to us now to carry that on in his name and do our bit.

“I haven’t spoken to Chris Coleman yet. I know the gaffer spoke to him the other night, but I want to be part of his plans.

“His first game in charge is on Wednesday, but it is going to be more of an occasion that worrying about the game to be honest.

“It is going to be very emotional and everyone is going to be looking to play their part and give Gary Speed a proper send off.”

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