Thousands gathered at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium on Tuesday to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 of their fans died during an FA Cup semi-final, one of the darkest days in the history of English soccer.
The supporters lost their lives in a crush at the Leppings Lane End of Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground at the start of the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.
Over 20,000 people attended the memorial service, where the number 96 was spelled out on the pitch using scarves donated by fans from around the world following an appeal by Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool’s manager at the time of the disaster.
Watch: Players, families honour Hillsborough dead
The names of the 96 victims were read aloud, the youngest being 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, the cousin of current Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who attended the ceremony along with his team mates.
After reading the psalm The Lord is my Shepherd, current manager Brendan Rodgers said his biggest match-day inspiration was the Hillsborough memorial featuring the names of those killed.
“Ninety-six individuals that were all loved, cherished and all went too soon,” he said.
“Those who we lost, and for those of you who have fought and campaigned tirelessly on their behalf and on behalf of the survivors, you are the real true inspiration for us.”
He paid tribute to Dalglish, saying he helped hold the club together in the aftermath of the disaster.
“Liverpool Football Club and the city of Liverpool were so blessed to have a man of his qualities leading the club at such a time, and although he personally seeks no credit or acclaim, without doubt his help and support both at the time and afterwards has been critical to the families and the survivors,” Rodgers said.
“The leadership, the human dignity and courage shown by Kenny at that time was more inspiring than any goal scored or any trophy won and I think it serves as an example to us all.”