Platini still haunted by Heysel on 30th anniversary of tragedy
UEFA president Michel Platini says the horrors of the Heysel disaster have "never left" him as football marks the 30th anniversary of the tragedy.
A collapsing wall at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels before the start of the European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool on May 29, 1985 caused 39 deaths and over 600 injuries.
The match went ahead and Platini, then a star midfield playmaker for Juve and the France national team, scored his side’s winner from the penalty spot – but his memories of the night are overwhelmed by the pre-match tragedy.
And in a statement released on UEFA’s website on Friday morning, he wrote: "Thirty years ago, I played in a European Champion Clubs’ Cup final at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels. And I continue to play in that final.
"It hasn’t left me, just like it hasn’t left anyone else who was there that night, and remains with all those who lost a loved one, for whom everything changed in a few terrible minutes.
"Thirty years later, I am the president of UEFA, the organisation that organised the match, and I am working every day with all my colleagues and friends at the national associations, leagues and clubs to ensure that we will never again experience the horror of such a night.
"We have been working unceasingly for the last 30 years to guarantee safety and security at sporting venues across Europe.
"On the 30th anniversary of that fateful night, my thoughts are with the 39 people who lost their lives and, of course, with their friends and families. I can only express my deepest sympathy and reiterate that I am still doing everything in my power to prevent such a tragedy from happening again."
Both clubs are marking the anniversary, with Liverpool holding an early-morning memorial service at Anfield and Juve an evening mass at Turin’s Chiesa della Gran Madre di Dio Church.
Phil Neal, Liverpool’s captain at the time of the disaster, laid a floral tribute at the foot of the Heysel memorial plaque in the Centenary Stand.
Neal said: "It was an honour for me to lay a wreath at the Heysel memorial today in remembrance of those who lost their lives.
"What happened at Heysel will always be with me and everybody else who was there on that terrible day – we will never forget."
Juve’s sporting director Gianluca Pessotto and former player Massimo Bonini laid 39 white lilies at Anfield, one for each life lost.
Ian Rush, who was part of Liverpool’s team in the final and also played for Juventus during his career, will reciprocate by representing the Reds in Turin.
Neal, Rush and Platini also presented a memorial plaque when Liverpool and Juventus met in the Champions League in 2005, 20 years after Heysel.
Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre said: "This is – and always will be – a hugely important day in the history of Liverpool Football Club. I thank Juventus Football Club for inviting us to attend their mass in Turin and for their ongoing friendship."
Sepp Blatter, on duty at FIFA’s congress where he is hoping to be re-elected as the organisation’s president, wrote on Twitter: "30 years ago today, 39 football fans from four countries died at Heysel in Belgium. We will remember them today."