Hillsborough disaster anniversary: Steven Gerrard reveals emotional response to win over Manchester City was triggered by Hillsborough memory

The Reds' captain lost his cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley in the tragedy and dedicated the Premier League victory to the 96 victims and their families on 25th anniversary of Hillsborough disaster
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Steven Gerrard has revealed that his emotional response to Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City was triggered by the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, having dedicated the win to the memory of the victims and their families who continue to seek answers about the tragic events 25 years ago today.

Gerrard was seen in tears on the Anfield pitch immediately after the final whistle before composing himself to deliver a fierce team-talk to his Liverpool team-mates.

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Explaining his reaction, the Reds’ captain explained that it was the timing of the match that got to him more than the importance of the win that sent Brendan Rodgers’ side two point clear at the top of the Premier League.

“The reason I was so emotional was because of when this game fell,” said Gerrard.

“I'm speaking on behalf of everyone when I say the win was dedicated to the victims and families of Hillsborough.”

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Gerrard’s tribute is all the more heartfelt given his 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley was the youngest victim of the 96 that died on April 15, 1989, in the abandoned FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough stadium.

Gerrard will be in attendance along with the rest of the Liverpool squad, staff and directors at a memorial service at Anfield today, where a period of silence will be held at 3.06pm to remember the time that the match was called off due to the tragedy in the Leppings Lane End.

“[My reaction] wasn't just because it was a big match in our season, it was because this week is always about more than football for everyone associated with Liverpool,” the 33-year-old continued.

“All the squad will be present at the service to pay our respects as we should.”

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A number of former players and managers will also attend the service, where the number ‘96’ will be formed on the Anfield turf made up of scarfs to remember those lost 25 years ago. Kenny Dalglish, who was manager at the time of the disaster, has written to all 92 clubs in the Football League asking for donations to be made to carry out the tribute, which was inspired by the ‘mile of scarves’ that linked Anfield and Goodison Park a week after the Hillsborough disaster.

Rodgers will give a reading to remember ‘The 96’, while Merseyside rival Roberto Martinez will also speak as part of the service. Everton will also hold a remembrance at Goodison Park where they have planned to establish a permanent tribute to those lost on that tragic day in 1989.