EL Hadji Diouf has spoken of his disbelief at the sudden death of Gary Speed and says the Welsh manager was the nicest footballer he has ever known.
Diouf was a team-mate of Speed’s at Bolton Wanderers, where the Rovers star was grateful for the support of the former Leeds United and Everton midfielder.
Speed, 42, was found dead at his home in Cheshire on Sunday morning.
“When I stepped out of line he was the one who helped put me back on the right track,” said Diouf.
“He was a positive influence on me and I respected him as much as anyone I have played with.
“When I was finding it difficult to deal with the boos that followed me everywhere he was the one who spoke to me and told me to ‘stay strong.’
“He used to say to me ‘they only boo you because you’re a good player. Don’t let it upset you.’
“He was the nicest footballer I have known.
“On and off the pitch he was an incredible man, he was such a positive person in the dressing room, I cannot believe he has gone,” he added.
“I loved his kids, I knew his wife well, he always treated me like a friend, not just a team-mate.
“I couldn’t sleep on Sunday night, all I can think about at the moment is him and my thoughts are with his family.”