Former Wales football manager Gary Speed may have killed himself accidentally, a coroner ruled today.
In a narrative verdict, Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg gave the cause of death as hanging but said "the evidence does not sufficiently determine whether this was intentional or accidental".
The inquest at Warrington Coroner's Court heard that Speed texted his wife days before his death and "talked in terms of taking his life".
Speed, who played for Sheffield United, Everton, Newcastle, Leeds and Bolton, was found hanged at his Cheshire home on November 27 last year by his wife Louise.
Today Mrs Speed told the inquest into his death at Warrington Coroner's Court that she had had a text conversation with Speed, 42, just days before he died.
The inquest heard he had talked in terms of taking his life but that he "dismissed it", saying that he was "excited" about the future with his wife and two sons.
Mrs Speed said the text referred to their "ups and downs" but went on about "how important the boys were" and about "moving forward".
The inquest heard that the couple "had words" on the night before he was found dead after they had been to a dinner party at a friend's house.
"We walked in the house and we had an exchange of words about something and nothing," Mrs Speed said.
Mrs Speed suggested she go for drive but her husband blocked the door and told her she "wasn't going anywhere".
"I went upstairs and lay on the bed for probably about five or ten minutes," she told the coroner for Cheshire, Nicholas Rheinberg.
"Then I decided to go for a drive, to clear my mind (and for) space to think."
Questioned further by Mr Rheinberg, she said she only drove to the "top of the road" before she stopped to ring her husband's mobile phone.
After getting no reply, she returned to the house and tried, unsuccessfully, to ring him again.
"I decided to keep the car running and stay there until I could get into the house," she explained.
After getting some sleep in the vehicle she told the hearing she woke up at about 6am and went to the outside bathroom.
She said she noticed some shed keys missing which were usually stored there and went to the shed to see if Gary was there, before moving to the garage.
Blinking away tears she said: "I went to the window and there I saw him."
She said she then woke the children to open up the house and called the emergency services.
On their advice, she cut her husband to the ground as paramedics were dispatched to the scene.
Mrs Speed confirmed there was no note or message left by her husband before his death.
In a statement read out after the inquest, Mr Speed's family said the day of his death was the "worst day of our lives" but his memory "shines brightly in our thoughts".
Statement from the Speed family:
Gary’s death and the manner of it, made Sunday 27th November 2011 the worst day of our lives. Throughout the nine weeks since, there have been some very dark moments, which we have all had to find our own different ways to endure.
Now, we have to adapt to the future without a husband, a father, a brother and a son; but Gary’s memory shines brightly in our thoughts and we will forever remember the wonderful times we shared with him and the deep love and affection he offered so freely within our close knit family.
Thankfully, out of tragedy some good often emerges, and we feel blessed to have such true friends who are helping each of us come to terms with the circumstances of our bereavement. Gary’s funeral was an occasion of great sadness and grief for everyone concerned but it was also a day where we were able to say farewell to him in our own personal and private way.
At this time we wish to reiterate our deep appreciation for the very generous and clearly sincere accolades paid to Gary and his memory by the public and all forms of the media. We remain especially grateful for the sympathetic way that the media has respected the family’s privacy.
The help and encouragement we have received from so many special individuals and organisations leading up to today’s inquest has been truly breathtaking and we must recognise publicly some of those concerned. The thoughtful way we have been treated by the Cheshire constabulary, which has been represented here today by Detective Inspector Peter Lawless. The considerate way today’s hearing has been conducted by HM Coroner Mr Nicholas Rheinburg. The practical help given in abundance by Melissa Chappell, whose support and friendship has been so much more to us than simply Gary’s professional agent. The invaluable life-line provided by the League Managers Association which has been there for us throughout. We are immensely thankful to all of you and greatly appreciate what you have done for us.
Finally, our thanks go to the FA of Wales which has arranged the Gary Speed Memorial Match against Costa Rica at the Cardiff City Stadium on Wednesday 29th February. This will give everyone whose lives were touched and enriched by Gary’s achievements the opportunity to attend, celebrate his life and pay their final respects. We look forward to seeing you there.