'Ablett was unsung hero for Liverpool says' Hansen
FORMER Liverpool captain Alan Hansen believes former team-mate Gary Ablett was hugely undervalued during his playing career.
Merseyside is in mourning for the 46-year-old, who is the only player to win the FA Cup with the Reds and Everton, after his death on New Year's Day.
Ablett, who had been battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for 16 months, won two league titles with Liverpool in addition to that FA Cup, and Hansen is still amazed he was allowed to leave Anfield so cheaply.
"He went to Everton in 1992. I had retired by then but I was surprised Liverpool had sold him," said the Scot. "He won a couple of titles and looked like he was going to be there forever.
"It was a benefit for Everton that they got a player of his talent and calibre for about £750,000 -- which was amazing.
"If he had joined Liverpool in the late 70s or early 80s, he would have been a permanent fixture.
"He was a dedicated, consummate professional but he was right at the top of the tree.
"I had a couple of great centre-back partnerships at Liverpool and he was as good as anything.
"I played with him when he was on the left side of defence and he made it really easy for me, and as soon as he stepped into the Liverpool side I knew he was a top-class player."
Ablett played 147 times for Liverpool before making the short move to Goodison Park, where he made 156 appearances.
Hansen said it was a mark of the man that he made such an impression on both clubs and their respective supporters.
"Both sets of fans loved him," he said. "He had a dry sense of humour and I just remember his smiling face when he came into the dressing room.
"He probably felt he was lucky to be there but he was a permanent fixture."
Reds legend Ian Rush agreed with Hansen's verdict on Ablett.
"He was versatile and whoever he played for he always gave 100 per cent," he added.
"In today's game, he would be right up there (with the best) because these sort of players don't come around any more."