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Gary Ablett

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Gary Ablett back in February 2010, during his season as manager of Stockport County. He went on to assist Roy Keane at Ipswich, where his illness was diagnosed. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA

 

Gary Ablett, the only man to win the FA Cup with Liverpool and Everton, has died following a long battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of blood cancer. He was just 46.

 

The Liverpool-born defender died on New Year's Day having been diagnosed with the illness in the summer of 2010 while working as an assistant to Roy Keane at Ipswich Town. Among the many to pay tribute to Ablett was Michael Owen, who wrote on Twitter: "So sad to hear the news that Gary Ablett has passed away today aged 46. He played for some great clubs and had a career to be proud of. RIP". The Labour MP and Everton fan, Andy Burnham, also wrote: "So sad to hear about Gary Ablett. Achieved rare feat of playing for, and being loved by, both clubs. A measure of the man he was. RIP."

 

Ablett, who also played for Birmingham City, Blackpool and had a short spell in America, won two league titles and the 1989 FA Cup for Liverpool in an Anfield career spanning 147 games. He joined the club as an apprentice in 1983 and was handed his first-team debut by Kenny Dalglish three years later, initially establishing himself at left-back in the 1987-88 title-winning campaign before featuring more regularly at centre-half and winning the league once more in 1989-90.

 

The Liverpool manager said today: "The most important thing just now is to pay our respects to Gary, his wife Jacqueline, the two boys and his wee girl. It's a sad, sad day for his family and everyone connected with Liverpool Football Club. Obviously he had a long battle and I'm sure it was a lot of suffering and a lot of pain for him, but the only thing you can say is at least he won't be suffering any longer.

 

"I gave Gary his debut and remember him scoring on his first start at Anfield against Nottingham Forest. He was a really good servant to the football club not only as a player, but also as reserve-team coach. He served the club proudly and credibly. It's very sad for everybody."

 

Under Dalglish's replacement as Liverpool manager, Graeme Souness, Ablett lost his first-team place and was sold across Stanley Park to Everton for £750,000 in 1992. He went on to make 156 appearances for the Goodison Park club and secured a unique place in Merseyside football history in 1995 when Joe Royle's team beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final to give Ablett his second winner's medal in the competition. He was also part of the Liverpool team that lost the 1988 FA Cup final to Wimbledon.

 

Ablett went on to make over 100 appearances for Birmingham, whom he joined for £400,000, before ending his playing career in 2001 after a brief spell with Long Island Rough Riders. He then returned to Everton to take up a coaching role with the club's youth teams, where he enjoyed great success for four years before being offered the position of reserve- team manager with Liverpool. He guided Liverpool's reserves to the Premier Reserve League north title in his second season in charge and took his first senior management job at Stockport County in 2009 with the club in administration throughout his only season in charge.

 

Following relegation from League One with Stockport, Ablett was offered a coaching role at Ipswich by the then manager Keane but was diagnosed with the disease shortly after his arrival in July 2010. He appeared at Everton's end-of-season awards dinner in May last year and fronted the club's cancer awareness campaign in September.

 

David Moyes, the Everton manager and a friend of Ablett's, said: "It is so, so sad about Gary. He was a regular visitor here to Finch Farm over the last six months and he was a lovely man, well liked by everyone. My thoughts are with all his family at this terrible time."

 

In October Ablett spoke of his shock at being diagnosed with the disease. "Jacqueline took one look at me and took me straight to the doctors," he said in an interview with Everton's website to support Blue September, a campaign to raise awareness of forms of cancer specifically affecting men.

 

"The following day they whisked me to Ipswich hospital and the sister asked us if we knew why we were there. We said 'for tests' but she told us they had found a really aggressive lymphoma and that without immediate treatment I'd be in serious trouble.

 

"From diagnosis to that first session of chemotherapy was less than three days, so it was a massive shock."

 

Birmingham have announced there will be a minute's silence observed before their Championship game at Peterborough today, and prior to their FA Cup tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers at St Andrew's on Saturday, while Ipswich players will wear black armbands for the visit of Nottingham Forest this afternoon.

 

The Ipswich chief executive Simon Clegg said: "It's desperately sad news. I stayed in touch with Gary as he battled his illness over 18 months, which he did with bravery and dignity and our thoughts go out to his wife Jacqueline and their children at this very difficult time."

 

Gary Ablett, Liverpool and Everton FA Cup hero, dies at the age of 46 | Football | guardian.co.uk

 

RIP Mr Ablett

YNWA

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Really sorry to hear this. He was a good player who would have had many more appearances for us but for the incredible defenders we had at that time. The fact that he got in the side and made something of a name for himself, considering how good the team was at that time, speaks volumes.

 

He always came across as a top bloke. RIP.

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RIP Gary - 46 is no age really - Getting something at that age & fighting it for a while, looking OK & then suddenly it comes back & you're gone? Well let's just say it's a worrying reminder of a man's mortality to All of us when something like that happens. YNWA Gary wherever you are now; It's an Awful way to begin this year & he'll be missed by Reds & Blues alike; I remember him managing at the Academy for us a few years ago & giving interviews on LFCTV & he looked OK - Not much different from as I remember him as a player in fact. This happening? Is just a terrible shock & very bad indeed.

 

One thing though I'll pull you up on G Richards? He was a good player but was IIRR Not denied a place in the team because of the "incredible defenders we had at the time" - What the likes of Barry Venison, Glen Hysen, an ageing Alan Hansen & Steve Nicol out of position? With the likes of Nicky Tanner due to come along soon after. I think you remember that time through rather rose-tinted glasses my friend. However, in reality? I think it's safe to say that Ablett like Lucas early on in his career? Was as I remember played out of position quite often, then gradully booed & sooner or later? Turned on by some in our crowd, got over it for a while & won a few trophies with us but eventually? He left Because of it. I think we should with him as with all our players? Have treated him a bit better when we had him. Still that's neither here nor there - He'll be Very sadly missed now.........................

 

 

RIP Gary Ablett. YNWA.

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