Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has donated 96,000 pounds to the families of the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.
Gerrard, whose 10-year-old cousin Jon Paul Gilhooley was one of the fans who died in the tragedy, has given the money to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
A total of 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death on an over-crowded section of terracing during an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough ground on April 15, 1989.
Campaign groups have spent the following 25 years attempting to bring to account those responsible for the worst stadium-related disaster in British history.
New inquests into the deaths of the victims will begin in March after the original verdicts of accidental death were quashed in December 2012.
Those verdicts were quashed three months after the publication of an independent report that cleared fans of any blame for the tragedy and highlighted the extent to which the police and emergency services attempted to cover up their own culpability.
Gerrard has made the donation in the build-up to Tuesday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield because he wanted to acknowledge the role of Everton and their supporters in helping the campaigners fight for justice.
The England captain, 33, told the Guardian: “With my own family’s connection to Hillsborough, it is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.
“It’s been in the media a lot lately, so I don’t think it was needed where I had to step in and keep it on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s minds.
“But I think now it’s gone a little bit quiet the last couple of weeks, so I think the timing’s really good -- to get it back out there, sending another message out about how we really want this justice.
“Alongside the gesture I am making, I and every other Liverpool fan can only thank Evertonians for their support.
“I’m not saying that to try to get in any Everton fan’s good books because I understand my own personal rivalry with them.
“But it’s there for everyone to see. The support they’ve given us is very touching.”
Hillsborough Family Support Group chair Margaret Aspinall has thanked Gerrard for his donation.
She told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s a wonderful gesture by Steven and we cannot thank him enough.
“It’s a lot of money he has donated and it will help all the families a great deal with our work.
“It’s another sign of how good the people of Merseyside are -- all they have done for us and continue to do.
“The club itself has been a great help to the Hillsborough Family Support Group and we’ve had a lot of support from the players as well.
“This money will help with the running costs of our office and the travel expenses of the meetings and talks we attend up and down the country.”
Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez donated 96,000 pounds to the Hillsborough Family Support Group when he left the club in 2010.