Imagine you’re a 8-year-old kid on Merseyside, living and breathing the game of football. Now someone tells you that your 10-year-old cousin has died after going to watch your local team, all due to a stadium disaster that dominates the headlines.
Something very close to that happened to Steven Gerrard, and it’s one of the reasons he was overcome with emotion after Liverpool defeated Manchester City on Sunday to cement its status as Premier League title favorites at a game where the Hillsborough 96 were honored.
“The reason I was so emotional was because of when this game fell,” said the 33-year-old.
“I’m speaking on behalf of everyone when I say the win was dedicated to the victims and families of Hillsborough.”
Gerrard was speaking ahead of Tuesday’s planned memorial to honor the Hillsborough 96, at which both Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Everton manager Roberto Martinez are slated to speak. Gerrard, the Liverpool captain, lost his 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley in the disaster.
His autobiography ends with the note, “I play for Jon-Paul.”
“[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,” he said.
“All the squad will be present at the service to pay our respects as we should.”
It’s sure to be a sobering event, one that reminds many of their humanity just as Gerrard did on Sunday at Anfield.