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Osian Roberts pays tribute to the role played by Gary Speed in his career path

Soccer – International Friendly – Wales v Norway – Wales Training Session – Vale Park
(Image credit: Nick Potts)

Crystal Palace assistant Osian Roberts has expressed his gratitude to Gary Speed for helping him on the path to becoming a Premier League coach.

Last weekend marked the 10th anniversary of the former Wales manager’s death at the age of 42.

Roberts was a member of Speed’s coaching staff at the time, having been promoted by the former Leeds and Newcastle midfielder, who was only in the role for 11 months but left a lasting impression on the national team, which went on to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and qualify for the next edition of the tournament.

Palace’s current assistant contributed towards those successes, remaining part of the Wales coaching set-up under Chris Coleman and then Ryan Giggs before this summer he was given the chance to work at Selhurst Park as number two to Patrick Vieira.

“Gary and I go much further than the national team because I used to run the coach education programme in Wales when he came in to do his UEFA A-license and began on that journey,” Roberts explained ahead of Sunday’s match at Manchester United.

“Then I brought him in when he was still a player to coach our national under-16s to get experience alongside myself at that stage.

“So of course I saw him develop into our national team coach and saw the impact he had on Welsh football with the foundations he laid in place which still exists today.

“There are players that are still in the national team who were young players with him during that time so Gary has played an enormous role in where Welsh football is today.

“It was an absolute privilege for me to be able to assist him and help him to put the national team on the road to the success we have had in recent times. Everybody will always remember his contribution to Welsh football as a player and then certainly as a manager.

“For me personally I owe him a debt of gratitude for that relationship first and foremost and secondly for the professional side of things where we worked well together and I certainly wished it had been for much longer.”

Roberts spoke at a press conference on Friday after Palace boss Vieira was required to leave the club’s training ground earlier in the day to deal with an “urgent family matter”.

The Eagles manager is expected to be on the touchline for Sunday’s clash with United and the visitors will aim to bounce back after losing 1-0 at Leeds on Tuesday to a stoppage-time penalty from Raphinha.

While it was a frustrating result, the fixture provided assistant Roberts with another chance to remember Speed, who spent eight years as a player at Elland Road.

He added: “I can’t believe it has been 10 years and it’s still very raw if I am honest but it was nice to see such a touching tribute in the programme at Leeds in midweek.

“My thoughts over recent days have been with his wife Louise, his parents and the boys (Edward and Thomas) in particular so his family because it is still something that affects us greatly.

“It has been a bit of a sad time for everybody concerned over the last few days, so it has been raw and difficult.”

Vieira, like Speed, started his coaching journey under the tutelage of Roberts on the Football Association of Wales training programme.

The ex-Arsenal captain went on to work in Manchester City’s academy before accepting managerial roles at New York City and Nice with Palace then able to snap up one of the division’s best-ever players as their boss in the summer.

“There is no right or wrong way of doing it but I personally like the way Patrick has done it with no ego and a lot of humility before entering into the Premier League,” Roberts said.

“We both have a similar philosophy as well and belief about how the game should be played. It would be very difficult to work with somebody who has a very different philosophy and way of working and playing, so I think we work well together.”

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