Sunday, 23 September 2012

Steven Gerrard Urges Luis Suarez To Shake Hands

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard has had a belly full.

He's fed up of the sick chants, the player bitching and losing football matches.

Today he wants his world to change. He wants football to change.

The Liverpool captain leads his team out at Anfield for the first time since the lid was lifted on what really happened at Hillsborough.

What really happened on the day he lost his cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley, aged ten at the time.

He does so against arch rivals Manchester United, a club whose civilized fans are continuously embarrassed by the minority in their ranks who rejoice in singing vile songs about the tragedy.

He does so at the front of a line-up that includes Luis Suarez, the Liverpool striker still embroiled in an ugly handshake spat with United left-back Patrice Evra.

And he does so in charge of a Liverpool team still to win a Premier League game this season - their worst start to a campaign in 101.

These are troubling times for Gerrard to ponder.

And he has certainly been deliberating in the build up to one of the biggest games in the football calendar.

Gerrard has spent time reflecting on the heart-breaking death of his cousin - and the realisation as a young fan he could have been claimed by the disaster.

The smear, cooked up by police and politicians, that has denigrated Liverpool's name for too long.

The need to add a sense of common decency to an intense footballing rivalry today and the fact it should be led by players taking responsibility for their own actions.

Now Gerrard wants to see all of his dreams become a reality at Anfield today. 

He said: "I'm hoping human decency breaks out. I think it's a great opportunity for both sets of fans to put the sick chants to bed - on both sides both Liverpool and Manchester United. 

"It's gotta stop. This is the perfect chance to put a stop to it but also to send a message to all the other supporters round the world who may be singing about the wrong things.

"These are not the only two disasters that have happened, there's racism going on, there's all kinds of different chants coming from all needs to stop and if two big clubs send out that right message that it has no place in football then I think everyone else will take note. 

"And not just for this game because of the last couple of weeks but because it's not right. 

"There were two big disasters, both United and Liverpool were affected. The game's on TV, everyone's waiting to see what kind of reaction it gets and it's a great opportunity for Liverpool fans and Manchester United fans to send a message across the world that they're two great sets of supporters and this is the chance to stop that kind of chanting.

"Let's have it right, it's not every supporter out there, it's a minority and people do jump on the back of it.

"If I'm a supporter at this game and I hear a whisper or someone starts making them kind of noises, then you've got a responsibility to tell the person next to you not to go down that road.

"I'm sure the Liverpool and Manchester United fans know what the right thing to do is. Let's hope this game's remembered for the right things on the pitch and off it.

"If it’s a fantastic match, there’s a handshake before the game and there’s no vile chanting, it will be a great advert to everyone around the world.

"There’s going to millions and millions of people watching this so it’s a great opportunity to send out the right message from the fans, from the players and from the game itself."

Gerrard accepts there is still going to be some animosity between fans and the players himself - despite calls from both sides to cool it.

He added: "That’s fine. Liverpool players and Manchester United players are not all of a sudden going to start liking each other. There’s a big game of football and a lot at stake at the weekend.

"But the rivalry is why we all love football, that’s why it’s the best league in the world, because of these rivalries. That can’t stop. But there’s a line."

That message is being echoed in the Anfield dressing room with Gerrard planning to take it upon himself to have a word with Suarez ahead of the game.

He said: "I will tell him I just think it’s time to move on. My advice to him would be to shake hands and move on.

"Suarez will make his own decision, of course he will. But I’d like to think he would want to move on himself.

"I think those two players could be the key. That's gonna be at the beginning of the game, the handshake, and they've got a responsibility to start the day off on a good note."

No-one wants the day to pass off without incident more than Gerrard, who has spent the past 23 years suffering having lost Jon-Paul.

The pain is still so acute, the Liverpool skipper refused to trawl through the report about the encounter.

He added: "I was obviously delighted with the breakthrough and that at last it's come out and people not just in this country but around the world know exactly how it came about.

"But on the other hand it still brings back the memories. It's all over the news, all over the papers.

"When you're a Liverpool fan and Liverpool player and you've got family who were affected in the disaster it brings back them memories so it was sad at the same time.

"It's difficult for my family and all of the families. That's the reason why I don't want to read it again. Every time Hillsborough comes up in a conversation or I see it in the paper or TV or anyone brings it up, you automatically think about John-Paul and about everyone else and the disaster itself."

It's not just Liverpool fans who mourned once again this week when the tragedy hit the headlines.

Across Stanley Park at Everton, they paid their respects in a manner that met with huge gratitude at Anfield.

"The reaction throughout football has been unbelievable," Gerrard added.

"First and foremost, across the park, at Everton. Everyone knows the rivalry we’ve got, the banter we have, the banter the two sets of supporter have around the city. The tribute they did was fantastic. Manchester United, as well.

"I think it’s brought football together and puts football into perspective.

"It goes to show there are rivalries in football but disasters and deaths put football into perspective."

Watch Steven Gerrard in action:

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