The former Wales manager Gary Speed had an argument with his wife in the hours before he was found hanged, an inquest into his death heard yesterday.
Louise Speed described how four days earlier the former Leeds and Newcastle United star, who had no history of depression, had raised the prospect of suicide in a text message but quickly decided he had too much to live for.
His death last November stunned professional football and raised questions about the pressures of the game. The Speeds, who had been married for 15 years and had two sons, were coping with "ups and downs" in their relationship brought on by the demands of his job as national manager, Warrington Coroner's Court was told.
However, neither saw the issues as insurmountable and there was no suggestion that their marriage was in trouble. They had spent the evening at a dinner party, where fellow guests said Mr Speed had been having fun and was pushed into a swimming pool fully clothed. The couple returned together in a taxi to their home at Huntingdon Hall near Chester at around 1am. But once there, they began arguing. Wiping away tears, Mrs Speed, 41, said: "We walked in the house and had an exchange of words about something or nothing. I can't even remember what it was."
She suggested she went for a drive, at which point her 42-year-old husband blocked the back door and said: "You are not going anywhere." She went up to a bedroom where she spent a few minutes before deciding to go out to clear her head. After a brief drive she returned home, but found she was locked out and, after failing to contact her husband on his mobile phone, decided to sleep in the car. At 7am, she returned to the property and spotted her husband's body hanging from a length of aerial cable in the garage. The inquest heard that earlier in the week Mr Speed had discussed self-harming, but concluded he should "move forward" and that his sons meant too much for him to go through with the threat.
Alan Shearer, a close friend, said Mr Speed had raised concerns over "a couple of issues" in his marriage during a holiday the two families had taken earlier in the year.
Mr Speed's mother, Carol, said her son did not enjoy the public glare and had considered turning down an MBE. She described him as a "cup half empty person, certainly not an optimist".
Looking back for clues to his possible unhappiness, she said she had seen a TV clip in which he appeared uncharacteristically unshaven. In another, she recalled: "Gary's smile didn't seem genuine. It didn't reach his eyes."
Returning 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". A narrative verdict records the circumstances of a death, without attributing the cause to a named individual.