Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Speed Is Putting the Party on Hold

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Speed Is Putting the Party on Hold

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

That Gary Speed was running late yesterday came as no surprise, given the number of people keen to bend the ear of the Newcastle midfielder on the eve of his record-breaking 400th appearance as a Premiership footballer.

For the majority, who were hoping to chart 12 seasons of exceptional consistency, the 34-year-old's musings were, in his own words, somewhat boring.

A player who hasn't won anything since the inception of the Premiership in 1992 is more concerned with the present than the past. Personal landmarks, it seems, mean little to Speed.

The Welsh international, who will become the first player to play 400 games in the Premiership when he lines up against Leicester this afternoon, said: "I'm pleased and I'm proud, but I wouldn't have even been aware of it if it hadn't been for other people telling me about it.

"It just isn't important to me. This may sound boring, but getting three points against Leicester is much more important. It's all about the team, it isn't about individuals and records.

"Maybe when I finish my career, I will look back upon this with a bit of pride. But all that concerns me now is this game. It's a big one for us."

Speed is sure to receive the plaudits from the Tyneside fans and from his admiring team-mates this afternoon but, appearing unusually uncomfortable in the limelight, the former Elland Road schemer admits great improvements must be made before the Magpies deserve to bask in the applause of their expectant supporters.

"It has been a frustrating season," he said.

"We have finished fourth and third in the last two seasons, there has been a progression. But it seems that this year we have stood still while other teams have progressed and we have to look at ourselves and ask why that is.

"We have got to apply ourselves better in training situations and work harder. …

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