Manchester United's Nicky Butt (C) is tackled by Gary Ablett (L) and Barry Horne of Everton during the FA Cup Final 1995
Manchester United's Nicky Butt (C) is tackled by Gary Ablett (L) and Barry Horne of Everton during the FA Cup Final at Wembley May 20. Everton won the FA Cup with a Paul Rideout goal in the first half

A host of former Liverpool players and teammates of Gary Ablett have paid tribute to the Merseyside stalwart who died on Monday at the age of 46, following a long battle against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The defender played more than a 100 games for both Liverpool and Everton, and the likes of Alan Hansen, Jamie Redknapp and John Aldridge have all paid glowing tributes to a player widely deemed one of the nicest men in football.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Jamie Redknapp recalled his first tentative steps as a 17-year-old at Liverpool and the warm reception he received from the "classy" Ablett.

"One word to sum up Gary for me? Classy." The aforementioned former England and Liverpool player told the Daily Mail.

"He was a friendly face, a smashing lad and had a great sense of humour, too. He would join in when the banter was flying, but never in a nasty fashion. He didn't look to score points off people.

"He was my room-mate too in the early days. Perhaps the management thought I needed looking after by one of the kinder professional players."

Alan Hansen, who is considered one of the finest centre-halves to have ever graced English football, won eight league titles during his remarkable Liverpool career and recalls Ablett as one of the best defenders he ever played with.

"Gary Ablett was one of the finest players to have played for Liverpool Football Club, and probably one of the most under-appreciated." Hansen told the Daily Telegraph.

"During all the years I played alongside him (at Liverpool), the perception of his talent did not always correspond to how good he really was.

"As a centre-half he was up there with the best I worked with. Players such as Mark Lawrenson, Phil Thompson and Gary Gillespie are rightly lauded, but Gary deserves his place alongside those illustrious names and I consider his premature sale to Everton in 1991 as one of the biggest transfer mistakes Liverpool have ever made."

Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge was a teammate of Ablett's prior to the defender's move to Everton in 1992. The Merseyside duo used to drive to training together and Aldridge believes it is a measure of the player and the man, that Ablett remains revered by Everton and Liverpool fans alike.

"Gary Ablett was a great servant to both football clubs in this city. His death is a sad loss not only for Liverpool and Everton but for football in general." Aldridge told the Liverpool Echo.

"He was a talented coach and still had so much to offer. Rest in peace Gary."

Ablett joined Liverpool as an apprentice in 1982 and made his debut in December 1986, and was later a mainstay of Kenny Dalglish's side that won the league title in 1988 and 1990, and famously the FA Cup in 1989.

In January 1992 the versatile defender was surprisingly sold to Everton for £750,000 but he went onto enjoy further successes in Merseyside, when he helped the Toffees win the 1995 FA Cup.

Ablett embarked on a fledgling managerial career, initially with Everton's youth academy and then later as Liverpool's reserve team coach. He endured a tumultuous reign as Stockport amid the club's crippling financial woes and subsequently left in June2010.

The 46-year-old had been battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for 16-months and leaves behind wife Jacqueline and three children.