Wales will 'never forget' Speed
Former Wales boss Gary Speed passed away a year ago on Tuesday but will never be forgotten in the country, according to Chris Coleman.
Former Wales, Leeds, Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United midfielder Speed died at the age of 42, prompting a huge outpouring of grief from within the game for a popular and respected figure.
Speed had overseen a run of four wins in five games as Wales boss, and his former team-mate and friend Coleman has faced the unenviable task of replacing him.
The former Fulham boss admits Welsh football is still in shock at Speed's untimely death.
"Forget the football, Gary was a great guy, different class," said Coleman.
"I was lucky enough to have known him for a long time. He's greatly missed - I still miss him. I will always miss him.
"I can't believe it's a year ago. You don't ever forget something like that. I will probably never get over it. You try to deal with it as time goes on.
"But you don't forget someone like Gary. We never will.
"It will be a difficult day and Christmas will be difficult for his family, but we are all here to support them."
Since Speed's death Wales have secured just one win, the World Cup qualifying defeat of Scotland last month.
And Coleman is more aware than most of the challenge his squad have faced in trying to get over the loss of their former manager.
He said: "I think people forget about the players. People just think they have to go out and get results. Of course, Gary's death was bound to have affected them.
"Players hold a lot of their emotions in. The dressing room is not the place where you show emotion.
"You hide everything. They will have dealt with it in their own time and space. It's been very hard for them and the players have handled it really well.
"You can't prepare for something like that because you don't think it will ever happen. When it happens it is a massive shock and surprise."
Football Association of Wales staff will meet tomorrow to remember Speed at the governing body's headquarters in Cardiff. Flowers will be laid and an image of Speed will be lit up outside the building.
Coleman said: "As a staff at the FAW we will go out for lunch to remember Gary.
"It's fitting that we do. It's about remembering someone we were very fond of. We will celebrate Gary's life, but I'm sure there will also be some tears.
"A lot of the staff in the offices knew Gary for 18 months. I knew him for 30 years. All of us have a relationship with him and all had the same opinion. He was a great guy."
In a statement FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford added: "We not only lost the National Team Manager, we also lost a friend and colleague.
"Our thoughts today, as they are every day, are with Gary's family - his wife Louise, sons Ed and Tom, his parents Roger and Carol and his sister Lesley."
Coleman was speaking at a 24-hour cycle by former Wales midfielder Matt Jones in memory of Speed.
The 32-year-old has already completed a series of half-marathons, the London marathon, a run up and down Mount Snowdon, and a sky-dive, raising thousands of pounds for charities supported by Speed, including the Bobby Robson Foundation, the John Hartson Foundation and the Spinal Injuries Association.