Ian St John was 'a Liverpool icon', says Steven Gerrard as tributes are paid to former Reds striker who has died aged 82

Rangers boss Gerrard "devastated" at death of St John, who made 425 senior appearances for Liverpool from 1961 to 1971; Jamie Carragher says striker was one of the most important players in Liverpool's history; Kenny Dalglish, Jamie Carragher, and Ian Rush also among those paying tributes

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Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard described Ian St John as an 'icon' as he paid tribute to him following his death at the age of 82

Ex-Anfield captain Steven Gerrard has called Ian St John, who has died at the age of 82, a 'Liverpool icon'.

St John was a key player in the great Liverpool team assembled in the 1960s by Bill Shankly which rose from the second division to win two English league titles and an FA Cup in 1965, in which he scored the winning goal in the final against Leeds United.

Ian St John celebrates at Wembley after scoring the winning goal for Liverpool in the 1965 FA Cup final
Image: St John celebrates at Wembley after scoring the winning goal for Liverpool in the 1965 FA Cup final

His death has been mourned throughout football and is especially sad for those with connections to Liverpool, for whom St John was pivotal in turning the club into the "bastion of British football" Shankly wanted it to be.

Gerrard was told the news during his Tuesday media conference as Rangers manager, and said: "He's an iconic figure at Liverpool Football Club. He's someone I'd met on numerous occasions and he's a fantastic guy.

"He was really insightful in terms of his career at Liverpool and his knowledge and expertise, and he always wanted to pass that on.

"I'm really devastated to hear the news, and I'm shocked. I'd like to send my condolences to his family. He's someone I've got incredible respect for."

Gerrard's words were echoed by another Liverpool legend, Sir Kenny Dalglish, who said: "I think it's right to use the word 'icon' and I send my prayers to Betsy, his wife, and the family and I just hope they are coping as well as they possibly can.

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"He certainly was, and deservedly so, an iconic figure in and around Liverpool Football Club because he came in at the very beginning with Shanks and big Yeatsy (Ron Yeats).

"He got off to a 'terrible' start by scoring a hat-trick against Everton at Goodison in the Liverpool Senior Cup, so I think after he did that he was always going to be revered in and around Liverpool.

"It's because of what he did in those early days, Shanks especially, the Saint and Big Yatesey, his big mucker, and it's because of them where this football club is at this particular moment in time. We should be eternally grateful for what he did for the football club."

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Jamie Carragher says St John is one of 'the most important players in Liverpool's history'

Jimmy Greaves, with whom St John formed a highly popular partnership for the TV show Saint and Greavsie from 1985 to 1992, released a statement via his Twitter account which said: "We are very sad to hear the Saint has passed away.

"Ian St John and I had great fun working on the Saint and Greavsie. He was a lovely man & will be sadly missed by many many people. We must also remember he was a great footballer for Bill Shankly's Liverpool and beyond."

Another former Reds skipper, Jamie Carragher, rates St John as one of the most important players in the club's history, and said: "Legend is a term that gets used a lot but I always think of those players as being the players that started what Liverpool Football Club is all about.

"For me, that makes them the most important players in the club's history. If you think about where the club would be today without those players and the manager and what he did in terms of winning league titles, it was the bedrock of where the club was built.

"It's a sad day. I got to know him really well. I never saw him play but you hear so much about him and my big recollection of him was seeing him at games and as a kid on the Saint and Greavsie show.

"Ian St John, Ron Yeats, and Roger Hunt are the first three players you think of from that 1960s team. Buying him (St John) was one of the best pieces of business the club has ever done."

Current Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp also added his condolences and reminisced on the time he met St John at their Melwood training base in 2019.

"When you arrive at Liverpool, you become aware immediately of these legends from the time before - and some of them, I have been lucky enough to meet, one of who was Ian," Klopp told Liverpool's website.

"When Ian arrived, it's so funny because you see the pictures of the legends on the walls everywhere, and he looked like he looked like on those photos. It was easy to see, 'Oh my God, yes, Ian St John!'

"He was not only football-wise a legend, but a true legend as a person. It was a pure pleasure to meet him.

"He had a little present with him; I'm not sure it was his first game for Scotland, but it was [a shirt] from a game against West Germany with the number 12. I am now 53 years old so I don't remember 100 per cent who the player was, but in my mind it was Heinz Flohe, a player from Cologne, I think he said.

"It was just outstanding and I'm just so happy to have met him because the best thing you can learn from these legends is how easy it is to stay the person you are, even when you had the biggest success in the past.

"I feel really honoured to have met him and when I heard the news today, I was devastated. All my prayers go to his family and I know he is in a better place as well.

"I am really, really happy I had the opportunity to meet him."

Former Reds striker Ian Rush added his tribute on Twitter, writing: "RIP Ian St John. Sleep well legend!! Thoughts and prayers are with your family at this time."

Liverpool's current left-back Andy Robertson described his fellow Scot, who won 21 caps for his country, as: "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."

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