TRIBUTES have poured in for former Blackpool FC player Gary Ablett who has died at the age 46.
Ablett – the only player to win the FA Cup with both Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton – died on New Year’s Day following a 16-month battle with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
A popular defender, he joined the Seasiders from Birmingham City in 2000 and played 10 games, scoring once against Luton Town.
Many footballing greats today paid tribute to the ex-Liverpool, Everton, Sheffield United and Hull City player.
Blackpool FC legend Jimmy Armfield, who himself battled non-Hogkin’s Lymphoma – a cancer which attacks lymphoid tissue – said: “I feel for his family. It is very sad.
“He was a real football enthusiast and he always said ‘hello’ when he saw me.
“I remember him when he played for Liverpool and managed Stockport.
“He wanted to be a football coach, but obviously the illness affected him and it’s sad news.”
Ablett, who is survived by his wife Jacqueline, two sons and a daughter, joined Liverpool FC as an apprentice in 1982 and played 109 times for the Reds. He moved across the city to Everton in 1992.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said: “The most important thing is to pay our respects to Gary, his wife Jacqueline, the two boys and his wee girl.
“It’s a sad day for his family and everyone connected with Liverpool FC.”
Alan Hansen, Match of the Day pundit and Ablett’s former Liverpool FC team-mate, added: “He was a lovely guy and he was quite unassuming and everyone loved him. He was a dedicated, consummate professional but he was right at the top of the tree.”
Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool captain, added: “First and foremost he was a really good guy, a terrific servant to the club as a player and as a coach. It’s a really sad day for everyone at Liverpoolily and our thoughts are with Gary’s family.”