John Aldridge paid tribute to a “true Liverpool legend” and a “tough gentleman” following Gerry Byrne's death at the age of 77.

The former Reds left-back, who made 333 appearances between 1957 and 1969, passed away in the early hours of Saturday following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Aldridge, who is chairman of the Liverpool FC Former Players Association, told the ECHO: “I'd known for a while that Gerry hadn't been well but it's still a bit of a shock.

“He was such a lovely man. He was a massive part of Bill Shankly's Liverpool team when I started going to matches in the mid-60s.

“Shanks described him as the hardest man in football – even ahead of Tommy Smith. Gerry was a fearless defender.

“He won the league title, he won the FA Cup and he was part of the 1966 World Cup winning squad. He was a real stalwart for the club.

“I had the honour of getting to know him through the former players association. He was a true Liverpool legend and a tough gentleman.

“I'm sure the club will honour a man who gave so much to Liverpool.”

Aldridge believes Byrne's heroics in the 1965 FA Cup final triumph over Leeds at Wembley deserve wider recognition.

The one-club man suffered a broken collarbone after a collision with Bobby Collins in the opening three minutes.

However, in the days before substitutes were allowed, he played on through the pain barrier.

“Aside from Liverpool and Everton fans, I don't think the wider football public realise what he went through in that final,” Aldridge added.

“To get through 90 minutes and extra-time with a broken collarbone and disguise the injury like he did was just incredible.

“The PFA, the FA and football in general should make people more aware of what he went through, especially in this era when players go down feigning injury.

“What he went through for the club was unbelievable and he was so modest.

“When I asked him about the 65 Cup final once, he just brushed it off as no big deal. He said: 'That was just the way it was back then'.

"Gerry didn't want any plaudits or pats on the back. He was as tough as they come.

“On behalf of all the former players, our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

Source: Liverpool Echo