Steven Gerrard will urge Luis Suárez to set the right tone for a tense encounter between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday by shaking Patrice Evra's hand and not exacerbating the feud that erupted between the pair last season.
Gerrard, in an interview with the Observer, says he wants Suárez and Evra to set the right example on a day when both sets of supporters are being urged to put an end to songs about the Hillsborough and Munich tragedies.
Suárez was banned for eight games last season after a Football Association independent commission ruled he had racially abused Evra and the Liverpool player was forced to issue a public apology after the return match at Old Trafford when he snubbed his opponent in the lineups.
"I think those two players could be the key," Gerrard says. "The handshake is at the beginning of the match and they've got a responsibility to start the day off on a good note. I will speak to Suárez and my advice will be to shake hands and move on. Suárez will make his own decision. Of course he will. But I'd like to think he would want to move on himself."
Gerrard's cousin, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, was the youngest of the 96 people killed at Hillsborough, aged 10, and the player reveals in an emotional interview that he is still so scarred by the memories that he has found it "too difficult" to read, in full, the report published by the Hillsborough Independent Panel.
Twenty-three years after the disaster, the Liverpool captain wants the people behind the cover-up to be punished. "I think everyone – I'm sure you are the same – does. If there are people out there who should be punished and deserve to be punished, of course. It's not in my control. But I hope so, yes."
The game has been preceded by appeals from both clubs for the two sets of supporters to stop the taunts about the disasters that have affected them so deeply, Hillsborough and the 1958 Munich air crash which claimed the lives of eight United players and three club officials. "I'm sure the Liverpool and Manchester United fans know what the right thing to do is," Gerrard says. "There's a big game of football and a lot at stake. But this is more important than football, what we're talking about. We all love football because of these rivalries. That can't stop. But there's a line."
On Friday it emerged that Sir Alex Ferguson would be writing to United fans attending the match, calling for them to abandon their "hatred" of Liverpool and to "pay tribute to their campaign for justice". "I know I can count on you to stand with us in the best traditions of the best fans in the game," he wrote.
Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers also spoke of the significance of the match: "It is a great opportunity globally for us to commemorate what has happened. If we can come out on top across the board, not only Liverpool but football will be the winner and that is what we are all looking for."