Sweden honors goalie killed in plane crash

Sep 15, 2011, 1:04 p.m.
Mourners place flowers next to the portrait of Swedish ice hockey goalkeeper Stefan Liv during his memorial service at the Kinnarps Arena in his hometown of Jonkoping September 10, 2011. Thousands of mourners gathered at the Kinnarps Arena Saturday to mourn Olympic gold medalist Liv who died when the Yak-42 aircraft that carried the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice-hockey team crashed on Wednesday. REUTERS/Jonas Ekstromer/Scanpix Sweden

By Philip O'Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Hockey players, former team mates and fans from all over Sweden on Thursday paid tribute to national team goalie Stefan Liv, who was killed in a plane crash in Russia last week.

The 30-year-old Swede was among 44 people who died when a plane carrying his team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl came down shortly after take-off on a flight to the Belarus capital of Minsk on September 7.

Ice hockey arenas all over Sweden observed a minute's silence while fans of his former club HV71 took the opportunity to honor the memory of the popular goalkeeper at their first home game of the season in the city of Jonkoping.

Liv played 10 seasons and won Sweden's Eliteserien three times with HV71 before moving to Russia in 2010, and since his death thousands of fans have flocked to their arena to leave floral tributes.

On an emotional night, some of his former team mates struggled to hold back tears as fans revealed a banner carrying the message "Always Missed, Never Forgotten."

Fans of HV71 and visiting team Djurgarden then combined in a "tifo" style tribute, using placards to spell out Liv's name during a minute's silence.

Earlier, visiting Djurgarden fans encircled the floral tributes to Liv outside the arena and unveiled a banner saying "Human lives are more important than team affiliations."

As a mark of respect, HV71 have said that all players will wear a small number one on their shirt this season, but the number one jersey formerly worn by Liv will never be worn again.

Born in Gdinya, Poland, Liv was adopted by a Swedish couple at the age of two. He made his debut for the Swedish national team in 2002, going on to win world and Olympic gold medals in 2006.

(Editing by Justin Palmer)

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