He was found hanged and is believed to have taken his own life, but this has yet to be officially confirmed. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.

Speed was 42 years old.

As the football world mourns his death, the inquest at Warrington Coroner’s Court will be opened and adjourned this afternoon before a full hearing takes place at a later date.

Speaking outside the star’s home, Speed’s agent and best man at his wedding, Hayden Evans asked that Speed’s family be given privacy.

Evans said: “Gary’s family would sincerely like to thank all the people that have sent messages of condolence and tributes in what is a very difficult time.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support and it really has helped.

“We would ask that the family are now given the respect of some privacy to just grieve on their own.”

Evans ruled out marital problems as the possible reason that Speed took his life.

“Louise is saying that’s not the case. She just doesn’t understand it.

“They were happily married and anyone who knows them will tell you that. This is why it’s a mystery.”

When asked if the former midfielder had experienced bouts of depression, Evans added: “None whatsoever.

“The one thing the family and me as one of his closest friends would totally refute is that. There was no indication of problems and never has been.”

Everton Football Club have announced that former team-mates of Gary Speed who played alongside him between 1996 and 1998 will converge at Goodison Park on Sunday for the game against Stoke as part of a tribute to their former midfielder.
There will also be a minute’s silence before the Premier League fixture and the club have opened a book of condolence.

Speed’s football career spanned 22 years. He won the league title with Leeds before moving to Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and then Sheffield United.

Tributes to Speed have poured in from a host of sporting figures.

David Beckham began a news conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, where his LA Galaxy club began a tour, by paying homage to Speed.

He said: “Obviously firstly I’d like to speak about Gary. I think he was an amazing and talented player, a player that had such a glittering career, and had just began a great career in management as well. On behalf of myself, the players, the manager and everybody at the LA Galaxy, we would like to send our love and thoughts to his wife, his children and family because it’s a sad time.”

The Football Associate of Wales (FAW) hosted an emotional press conference. Chief executive Jonathan Ford fought back tears as he said it felt odd to be holding a press conference without the Wales manager next to him.

“It is surreal,” he said. “I am so emotionally cut up. We can’t fathom it, we can’t understand it and I think we will be guessing for many years to come.

“We are all devastated. At the FAW office, we huddled and cried together today. All we’ve done is cried. None of this makes sense.”

Flags outside the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff were flying at half-mast and a tribute is expected tonight at the Carling Cup tie between Cardiff City and Blackburn Rovers. Meanwhile, Alan shearer, Speed’s great ally from when they played at Newcastle United, and dear friend, expressed how Speed’s death defied his comprehension.

“That’s the question I keep asking myself. Why? Why?” Shearer said. “He was the sort of friend who would confide in you. But I was laughing and joking with him on Saturday [in a BBC TV studio], as we always do. There was no sign. The last thing I said was, ‘See you next weekend’.We were supposed to be going out, to a charity dinner we were attending together.”

The first sign for Shearer came early on Sunday morning when he looked at his phone. He said: “I had a few missed calls, which I thought was strange. It was a mutual friend, and when he told me I said to him, ‘Stop messing around. Don’t joke about things like this’.”

Shearer said all he could manage was then to get drunk with mutual friends who were equally stunned. “Obviously then you wake up with a hangover and you’re back to reality again. I keep thinking of Louise (Speed’s wife) and the two boys (Edward, 14 and Thomas, 13): they’re the important ones. You can’t do anything, you can’t say anything. You’re just at a loss.”

He added: “There are handful of guys who I would trust my life with and he was one of them,” Shearer said.