Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has expressed his sadness at the death of Andrew Devine, who a coroner has confirmed was the 97th victim of the Hillsborough disaster.
The 55-year-old died on Tuesday, more than 32 years after he was badly hurt in the tragedy at the Reds’ FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.
In a record of inquest, seen by the PA news agency, Liverpool coroner Andre Rebello said the inquest into the first 96 fatalities of the disaster, which concluded in 2016, was “comprehensive and thorough” and during the hearings the circumstances of Mr Devine’s serious injuries were considered.
“As such, it is proportionate, reasonable and sufficient for me to adopt the jury’s findings and determination in full,” he said.
The jury in those inquests recorded a conclusion of unlawful killing and found errors and omissions by South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club and South Yorkshire Ambulance Service before and after the fatal crush on the Leppings Lane terraces.
It found the behaviour of fans did not contribute to the disaster.
Liverpool’s squad and staff, currently at a camp in Austria, held a 97-second silence ahead of training on Thursday.
“We found out that Andrew was in hospital last week and all of us hoped that he would make a recovery but it wasn’t to be,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.
“We have lost an incredible person, someone who showed us all what it is to fight and who refused to give in even when the expectation was that he could fight no more.
I find that it is more likely than not that Andrew Devine was unlawfully killed, making him the 97th fatality from the events of April 15, 1989.Coroner Andre Rebello on the death of Andrew Devine
“I did not know Andrew well but I met him when he visited Melwood when visits were still possible and all of us got to share some time with him.
“We are all very sad about this news. We are sad for Andrew, we are sad for his wonderful family who cared for him for so long and we are sad for the entire Liverpool family because another life has been cut short by Hillsborough.
“All of them are in my thoughts and prayers. We will not forget Andrew. He made a big impact on all of us.”
The record of inquest, from the hearing held on Wednesday, stated Devine had been admitted to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital on July 12 with aspiration pneumonia and fever and died on the morning of July 27.
His brain injury, caused as a result of trauma he suffered at Hillsborough, meant he was predisposed to fatal aspiration pneumonia, Mr Rebello found.
The coroner concluded: “I find that it is more likely than not that Andrew Devine was unlawfully killed, making him the 97th fatality from the events of April 15, 1989.”
Sir Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool manager at the time of the tragedy, wrote on Twitter: “The thoughts of Marina and myself are with the Devine family, especially his magnificent parents who gave him such incredible care.
“Andrew will always be remembered by everyone at Liverpool Football Club. May he rest in peace.”
Tributes were also paid from the blue half of Liverpool, with the Everton FC Twitter account posting a message which said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of Andrew’s passing. Our thoughts are with his family and, as always, all those affected by the Hillsborough tragedy.”
Match commander David Duckenfield was cleared of gross negligence manslaughter at a retrial in November 2019, after the jury in his first trial was unable to reach a verdict.
Earlier this year, the trial of retired police officers Donald Denton and Alan Foster and former force solicitor Peter Metcalf, who were accused of perverting the course of justice following the disaster, collapsed after a judge ruled there was no case to answer.