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What Strictly star Dan Walker has said about close friendship with late football star Gary Speed

Gary sadly took his own life in 2011

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Matthew Moore
Online News Writer & Diversity and Inclusion Lead
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Although Dan Walker has been entertaining the nation every Saturday night on Strictly Come Dancing, last week was a bittersweet one for the BBC Breakfast presenter.

READ: Inside Dan Walker's private 20-year marriage with uni sweetheart Sarah

Dan took to the dancefloor that night to perform his Rumba with Nadiya Bychkova on the ten-year anniversary that his friend footballer and manager Gary Speed sadly took his own life. Dan had been with the sporting star on the day that it happened, conducting an interview with him for Football Focus of which he was the presenter at the time, and even making future plans.

WATCH: Dan Walker fights back tears as he leaves Football Focus

The pair became firm friends with Dan interviewing Gary numerous times on the show, further strengthening their bond.

READ: Strictly's Dan Walker hits back at 'fix' allegations with defiant post

MORE: Strictly star Dan Walker reveals surprising Call the Midwife connection

Shortly after Gary's death in 2011, Dan wrote a poignant tribute for his friend, in which he concluded: "This is the time to say I found him to be a top bloke and really enjoyed his company. He leaves a huge hole in football. He seemed to have everything in front of him - two boys he loved, physical fitness and, at just 42, a promising future as manager of Wales. But Gary Speed is gone and I miss him."

In a tearful tribute on the tenth anniversary, Dan opened up further about his friend, saying: "Gary Speed was an amazing footballer and just an all-round good bloke."

gary speed© Photo: Getty Images

Gary sadly took his own life in 2011

He added: "I always found him to be a really kind bloke. He was always interested in other people. He'd always ask you questions about your family, about what you'd been up to, and he'd remember things you said to him in previous conversations and I don't think there are many people like that."

MORE: Strictly star Greg Wise has viewers emotional discussing grief of losing sister Clare

MORE: Strictly's Tilly Ramsay leaves Nikita Kuzmin speechless with moving post

Dan was deeply affected by Gary's passing, and admitted in his book Remarkable People: Extraordinary Stories of Everyday Lives that he still thinks about it.

dan walker football focus© Photo: Rex

Dan left Football Focus earlier this here

"I have been over that Saturday morning with Gary thousands of times in my head," he wrote.

"I have woken up in the middle of the night on many occasions. I have been driving down the M1 or up the M6 and missed my junction. I have pored over everything that was said before, during and after that show."

If you've been affected by any of the issues in this story, call the Samaritans on 116 123.

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