Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Benitez - Hillsborough must never be forgotten

The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
Debbie Routledge, a survivor in the Hillsborough stadium disaster 1989
Fans on the pitch at Hillsborough. FA Cup semi final April 1989 between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. 96 football fans lost their lives in Britain's worst stadium disaster
Fans receiving attention on the pitch. Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield will always bear the scar of England's worst football tragedy. On April 15th 1989, 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives having gone to watch their side contest an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest
Gill and Brian Caldwell being crushed against the fence in the Liverpool enclosure at Hillsborough
Liverpool fans at Hillsborough, trying to escape severe overcrowding
Fans crushed against the perimeter fence at Hillsborough
An injured fan receiveing attention on the pitch
An injured fan sits against the goalpost with his leg in a splint
Fans recieving medical attention on the pitch
Hillsborough disaster policeman looks at a pile of police helmets lying on pitch amongst debris
Police shielding injured fans at Hillsborough
Kevin Williams stretchered off on the Hillsborough pitch during the Hillsborough disaster
Injured fans lie on advertising boards which were used as makeshift stretchers
Victims at the Hillsborough football disaster, 1989
Victims at the Hillsborough football disaster, 1989
Bent and twisted fencing at Hillsborough in the aftermath of the tragedy
A distraught young Liverpool fan in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, his wife Marina and daughter Kelly during the memorial service for the victims of the Hillsborough Tragedy.
Scarves and floral tributes laid at Anfield
Scarves and floral tributes at Hillsborough
A young boy adding to the floral tributes at Anfield's Shankly gates
A message written on a wall remebering the Hillsborough disaster victims
Andrew Devine, coma victim of the Hillsborough football disaster
Hillsborough disaster victim Andrew Devine who is now communicating by pressing a micro switch
Margaret Thatcher at Hillsborough
Anfield fans leave flowers in the nets
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
The Hillsborough tragedy - 1989
A sea of flowers at Hillsborough stadium, in memory of the Liverpool fans who died at Hillsborough
Hillsborough Memorial
A Liverpool supporter holding a banner
Fans and players observe a minutes silence at Hillsborough
Liverpool's Xabi Alonso wearing a black armband in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has explained how he has come to understand the full extent of the Hillsborough disaster.

Anfield's manager, now 49, was coaching Real Madrid's youth teams in Spain when the tragedy happened on April 15, 1989, leading to the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters.

With the 20th anniversary of the disaster coming up on Wednesday, Benitez said: "In Spain we didn't really realise the real problem initially, but after hearing the stories on the news we then realised the full extent.

"But after I became Liverpool manager in 2004 I have received a lot of information from the people and staff at the club, so it has helped me understand just how important it is for the people here."

Now Benitez believes Liverpool's foreign players should also fully understand the tragedy that has changed the face of the club and football in England.

He said: "It is important not just for the foreign players but everyone in football. It was a tragedy that was so important, it is vital it is remembered.

"I think that for the fans of football in any country, for any club, it is important to remember what happened."

Benitez is a strong family man, and he says: "You look at your own daughters and imagine what it would be like for yourself, it is then you realise what a disaster it would be to be involved in something like that.

"You think about this when you are reading the names (of the 96 who died), you see the families and you can see what it means for everyone.

"I have been really impressed with the families and the effort they are putting into retain good memories of the victims of Hillsborough.

"The families are doing really well trying to keep the good memories of the people, and you can see the staff here have always been there for them, and will always be there trying to support the families, the club will always be behind them.

"The first time I attended the memorial service I was amazed to see the people and the respect they showed. Every year when we go it is similar because you can feel what the families are feeling."

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