Footballing greats remember Gary Ablett

John Barnes, Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish and Mark Lawrenson at Gary Ablett's funeral
Image caption John Barnes, Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish and Mark Lawrenson were among those at the service

Footballing greats have turned out to mourn former Liverpool and Everton footballer Gary Ablett.

Father-of-three Ablett, who had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, died on New Year's Day.

The defender, 46, played more than 420 games for both Merseyside clubs and Birmingham City. He later went on to manage Stockport County.

Among those to attend the funeral at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, were Kenny Dalglish and John Barnes.

Rafa Benitez, Roy Keane, Robbie Fowler, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson were also at the service, along with former Everton managers Joe Royle and Howard Kendall.

The coffin was carried into the church to the Liverpool anthem You'll Never Walk Alone and left to the Z Cars theme, which plays every time Everton players run on to the pitch at Goodison Park.

'Everyone loved him'

Ablett joined Liverpool in 1982 as an apprentice and made his debut in 1986. He helped the club win the league title in 1988 and 1990 and the FA Cup in 1989.

In January 1992, he was sold to rivals Everton for £750,000 and went on to lift the FA Cup with them three years later, becoming the only player to win the cup with both Merseyside clubs.

He played for Birmingham between 1996 and 1999 and also had short spells at Sheffield United, Wycombe and Blackpool.

Image caption Gary Ablett was the only player to win the FA Cup with both Liverpool and Everton

Ablett finished his playing career at Long Island Rough Riders in the US, in 2001.

He coached Everton's youth academy and Liverpool's reserve team before managing Stockport County from July 2009 to June 2010. He was coaching at Ipswich Town when he fell ill.

Many paid tribute to Ablett after his death, including Alan Hansen who said he was a "lovely guy [who] was quite unassuming and everyone loved him".

Over 1,000 people attended the funeral, with many mourners wearing Liverpool and Everton scarves to remember Ablett's successful spells at both Merseyside clubs.

The hearse arrived laden with floral tributes, including a red and white wreath spelling out "Dad".

Among the cards from family members, one read: "I'm going to miss you and that smile so much, all my love your little princess. Scarlet. xxx"

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