Liverpool pays tribute to 'unique' Hughes

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The Independent Football

Many of the great names of British and, in particular, Liverpudlian football united yesterday to say a sad farewell to Emlyn Hughes.

Many of the great names of British and, in particular, Liverpudlian football united yesterday to say a sad farewell to Emlyn Hughes.

Sheffield Cathedral was packed to capacity with almost 2,000 mourners for the funeral of Hughes, who died last week at 57 from a brain tumour. Thousands of fans, many sporting Liverpool or England shirts, braved the rain outside the cathedral to pay their own tribute.

Three former Liverpool managers - Graeme Souness, Kenny Dalglish and Roy Evans - attended, plus Manchester City's Kevin Keegan, a former team-mate, and a host of former Liverpool players, amongst them Roger Hunt, Ian St John, Ian Callaghan and the club's former assistant manager Phil Thompson.

The tribute was read by John Toshack, Wales' new manager and Hughes' greatest friend. Toshack and Hughes shared eight seasons at Anfield under Bill Shankly, winning the League title three times and the Uefa Cup twice.

The pair owned a sports shop together in Southport, and Toshack said during his tribute: "Emlyn epitomised everything that Bill Shankly wanted from a Liverpool player.

"The fans had their own song for him, 'come all without, come all within, you'll not see nothing like the mighty Emlyn', from a pop song of the day. And they were right, Emlyn was unique. There was only one of him."

Hughes' death also united Merseyside's great rivals. The former Everton manager Colin Harvey was there, as well as other former Evertonians - Peter Reid, the Coventry City manager, and Joe Royle, the Ipswich manager.

Other greats from Liverpool's past there included Jimmy Case, David Johnson, Brian Hall, Willie Stevenson, Dean Saunders, Alan Kennedy, Phil Neal and Chris Lawler.

Alan Kennedy, a match-winner in the European Cup final against Real Madrid in Paris in 1981, remembered the man he replaced in the Liverpool side. "He was one of the heroes I looked up to," Kennedy said.

"When I wanted to play for England, Emlyn was in my position at left-back. I always looked at him and said I wanted to follow in his footsteps. And I did when I joined Liverpool from Newcastle in '78. In some ways I replaced Emlyn because he was allowed to move on to Wolves and I became the number one left-back.

"I have great memories of him, when I first joined the club. He took me under his wing and said 'OK, if he's going to replace me then I am going to look after him.'

"He certainly did that," Kennedy added. "He was never down, always a bubbly character and a great motivator. He was never a defeatist and felt we could beat anyone and that rubbed off on everyone who played alongside him.

"He had a charisma about him. He will be remembered as much for his character as anything else. He lived life to the full and loved his family, but he was always able to have a beer with the lads.

"Whether at centre-back, full-back or midfield, he could play anywhere. He virtually started the tradition of the ball-playing centre-half.

"If there was anyone a kid could look up to it was Emlyn, because of what he achieved and what he was as a person."

Phil Neal, who shared League championship and European triumphs with Hughes, added his tribute, saying: "It was lovely to play alongside him week-in, week-out. He was a great captain and led us all by example. He was committed to everything he did, be it play or raising vast amounts of money for charity. He had that great smile and I have never seen anyone else always so bright and happy. In all the years I knew him he was never down, never low. Just always a great motivator.

"A few of us would travel into the ground together for matches, me, Tosh [Toshack] and Emlyn. And in that 20-minute ride he would convince everyone that we could win the game by two or three and we nearly always did."