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Late Liverpool legend Ian St John was rarely seen without a smile, and now footballers are mourning his humour and warm spirit. Steven Gerrad, James Milner and Andy Robertson are among those who paid their respects after news emerged that the former Liverpool forward died after a battle with illness at the age of 82.
Image Credit: liverpoolfc.com
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St John, affectionately nicknamed The Saint, moved to Liverpool from his hometown club of Motherwell FC in 1961 and stayed with the Reds for ten years. He helped them win two league titles and an FA Cup after signing for a club record fee of £37,500. (Legend has it LFC boss Bill Shanky remarked: 'We can't afford not to buy him'.)
Image Credit: Twitter/Motherwell FC
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Former Liverpool captain and current Rangers FC manager Steven Gerrard discovered the news during a press conference. 'That’s a shock and surprise to me, I didn’t know that ... He’s an iconic figure at Liverpool FC, someone I’ve met on numerous occasions. Fantastic guy, really insightful, in terms of his career and his experience at Liverpool and trying to pass on a lot of knowledge. I’m really devastated to hear that news and shocked as well,' said Gerrard.
Image Credit: AFP, liverpoolfc.com
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Fellow Scotsman and current Liverpool defender Andy Robertson also reacted to the passing of the late legend, reminiscing on meeting him. 'A man of warmth, humour, knowledge, wisdom and joy. Scotland and Liverpool has lost a true giant. My love goes to his family. Rest in peace Ian St John,' wrote Robertson on Twitter.
Image Credit: Twitter.com/Andy Robertson
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Vice captain James Milner meanwhile shared a mirthful image with St John, as well as teammate Virgil Van Dijk. 'RIP Ian St John - what a player, what a man,' wrote Milner.
Image Credit: Twitter/James Milner
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Liverpool author and historian Carl Clemente remembered St John as one of the club's first heroes, pulling up one of his quotes. 'Liverpool Legend Ian St John has passed away aged 82. One of the 1st Kop heroes, idolised by past generations of Reds. The Saint will be sadly missed. "Supporters, they mean everything to me, when I come out on the field on a Saturday - I'm prepared to die for these people." RIP,' wrote Clemente.
Image Credit: Twitter/Carl Clemente
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Stan Collymore, ex-Liverpool, said it would be 'inconceivable' to envision the club's history without St John in it. 'A part of the fabric of @LFC for so long it's inconceivable that the club would have been the club it is today without the likes of Ian St John. For my generation, the face of TV football with Jimmy Greaves, bringing fun, insight and warmth to the screen. Rest in peace, Saint,' wrote Collymore.
Image Credit: Twitter/LFC
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Motherwell FC chairman Jim McMahon meanwhile recalled his 50th birthday when he got to play golf with the Saint, saying: 'I was lucky enough to see almost all his games and his technical skill, pace, vision and ambition cemented him as the player I wanted to be.'
Image Credit: Twitter/Scottish FA
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All rivalries were put to the side, as Merseyside opponents Everton FC remembered St John fondly. 'A real loss to the game and one felt heavily in our city. A rival for many years but a popular figure on and off the pitch,' the club wrote on Twitter.
Image Credit: Twitter/Professional Footballers' Assosciation
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Jamie Carragher, retired footballer and former Liverpool player, posted a heartbroken emoticon. 'Another Liverpool Legend sadly passes away. One of the players along with Bill Shankly who made this club what it is today. I’ll remember him most on the best football show on tv, The Saint & Greavsie,' he wrote. Throughout his international career, St John made 21 appearances for Scotland, scoring nine times.
Image Credit: Portsmouth FC