Former Wales manager Gary Speed will be remembered at a football conference renamed in his honour next month.
The inaugural UK Football Academy (UKFA) symposium has been renamed The Gary Speed Football Congress by UKFA founder Raymond Verheijen as a tribute to the manager alongside whom he worked last year to elevate the Wales football team to new heights.
Wales climbed 65 places to 48th in the FIFA rakings last year – the biggest leap of any nation – having won four of their last five fixtures before Speed’s death shocked the football world in November.
Speed was well known as a model professional who embraced a forward-thinking approach. He was a big advocate of Verheijen’s modern coaching methods and was an ambassador for the UKFA. He had been due to speak at the 8 February event.
The Gary Speed Football Congress will now become an annual fundraising event, an arrangement made in collaboration with Gary’s wife Louise Speed. All proceeds from this year’s event will go towards a charity of Louise’s choice.
The congress is supported by Speed’s friends and former Newcastle colleagues Shay Given, Craig Bellamy and Alan Shearer, along with the Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers Association.
“Speedo’s forward-thinking approach transformed the Wales National Team,” said Shearer. “He left a true legacy. The Gary Speed Football Congress will allow coaches to learn from this approach. It is an honour to support this event as it will not only remember him but also celebrate his achievements and everything he stood for.”
Shay Given added: “Throughout his career Speedo never stopped giving to football. He would never resist the opportunity to discuss the game or to pass on advice to anyone who asked. This event will enable him to continue to give something back to football.”
The event, which takes place at Emirates Stadium, is open to managers, coaches and practitioners at every level of the game and will feature sessions for professional, amateur and youth football, delivered by internationally-renowned football specialists.
Verheijen will be joined as a keynote speaker by UKFA co-founder and former Dutch coach Guus Hiddink and West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce.
For further information or to register visit www.ukfootballacademy.net.