STEVEN GERRARD maintains that the memory of his cousin who died at Hillsborough has been the driving inspiration to his football career.
The Liverpool skipper was only nine when the tragedy occurred in Sheffield, but he recalls going to bed that night praying that the death toll did not get any worse.
But Gerrard, 28, recalls how he discovered the following morning that his 10-year-old cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley was among the 96 who died, the youngest victim claimed by the disaster.
Gerrard said: “I was really, really shocked and deeply saddened to have seen the scenes on TV and hearing the radio at the time.
“I was completely and utterly shocked, whilst wondering if there was anyone we knew who was really close and personal at the game.
“But also feeling exactly what every Liverpool fan was feeling at the time, because I’m sure everyone was wondering if they knew anyone who was at the game also.
“And then obviously going to bed that night, (I was) lying there praying and keeping my fingers crossed that it didn’t get any worse to what we had already heard.
“But unfortunately for myself and my family we got the dreaded knock the next morning to say that a member of our family was at the game and had been tragically killed.”
And as Liverpool prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough, Gerrard says: “Obviously it was a difficult time to know that one of your cousins had been at the game and had been tragically crushed.
“And seeing the reactions of his mum, dad and family helped me drive on to become the player I have developed into today.
“The memory of Hillsborough is very central and very important to this club and the 96 will never be forgotten, as well as the people that got hurt.”
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