London – Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has made a personal donation of £96,000 to families affected by the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, he revealed on Tuesday.
The England midfielder has a family connection to the tragedy, as his cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley was one of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the disaster.
“I think the timing's right and having spoken to the club, I've decided to do it now,” Gerrard told Tuesday's edition of regional newspaper the Liverpool Echo.
“It had been in the media a lot so I didn't think it was needed where I had to step in and keep it on everyone's lips and in everyone's minds.
“But now it's gone a little bit quiet over the last couple of weeks, I think the timing's really good to get it back out there – sending another message out about how much we really want this justice.”
Gerrard made the donation to the Hillsborough Family Support Group, whose chairwoman Margaret Aspinall applauded the move.
“It's a wonderful gesture by Steven and we cannot thank him enough,” she said.
“It's a lot of money he has donated and it will help all the families a great deal with our work.”
The tragedy at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, northern England, in April 1989 remains the worst sporting disaster in British history.
The 96 victims, all Liverpool fans, were killed in a crush caused by huge overcrowding on a standing terrace before an FA Cup semi-final between their team and Nottingham Forest.
Fresh investigations into the deaths are due to begin in March, after the High Court in London quashed the original coroner's verdicts following a campaign led by relatives of those who died.
An investigation into police handling of the disaster is also underway, after evidence emerged that the local force, South Yorkshire Police, tried to cover up what had happened on the day of the tragedy. – Sapa-AFP