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Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Saturday, 11 April 2009 11:59 UK

Gerrard pays Hillsborough tribute

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Hillsborough remembered - Steven Gerrard

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has revealed the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy will have an extra significance for his family.

Ninety-six fans died in the crush during Liverpool's FA Cup semi against Nottingham Forest and Gerrard's cousin, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was among them.

"It was difficult knowing one of your cousins had lost his life," the 28-year-old England international said.

"Seeing his family's reaction drove me on to become the player I am today."

Gerrard will attend the annual memorial service at Anfield on Wednesday, and along with team-mate Jamie Carragher, will present the Freedom of the City to the bereaved families.

Steve Wilson blog

There will also be a two minute silence held in Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield at 1506 BST which will end when all civic, cathedral and church bells are rung 96 times.

"The families have conducted themselves with dignity since the tragedy," said Gerrard.

"I know how horrific it has been for them. They should be proud of themselves. The club are very proud of them and will continue to be so."

During the service at Anfield, Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez and councillor Steve Rotheram will lay a scarf on the pitch and release 96 red balloons.

Gerrard added: "What happened that day is very central to the club - the 96 that lost their lives will never be forgotten," he said.

"They must be remembered individually and not as numbers.

"As a football club we've stuck together since that day. Like we always do when times are hard.

"We're not just about what happens on the pitch we're all together off the pitch as well."

Watch a Football Focus special marking the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster on Saturday 11 April, 1210 BST, BBC One



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see also
Hillsborough remembered - John Aldridge
11 Apr 09 |  Football Focus
Hillsborough remembered - Des Lynam
11 Apr 09 |  Football Focus
Lord Triesman on Hillsborough legacy
11 Apr 09 |  Football Focus
Club will not mark stadium deaths
25 Mar 09 |  South Yorkshire
Stars launch Hillsborough single
26 Mar 09 |  UK News
Transport halted for Hillsborough
30 Mar 09 |  Merseyside
Saturday's show
11 Apr 09 |  Football Focus


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