It’s been 25 years since my Shehzad left me yet not a single day goes by where he doesn’t cross my mind,” says his mum Walyat Begum.

TODAY marks a quarter of a century since an aspiring student was stabbed to death in Blackburn. We remember the short but inspirational life of Shehzad Iqbal by speaking to his family and friends.

It was a November afternoon when 18-year-old Shehzad Iqbal got out of a car to break up an altercation on the West Park Road, next to Corporation Park. It led to Shehzad being stabbed in the stomach. He bravely somehow managed to make it back to the car and was driven to the police station where officers tried in vain to save his life. He died on his way to the hospital.

No-one was ever convicted of the murder.

Mohammed Iqbal, Shehzad’s father said, “Many years have passed now since the backbone of this family departed. He was the most loving, caring, thoughtful, kind and beautiful soul. 

“He was a gentle boy who loved everyone and was full of life. Words cannot explain how much I miss my boy every minute of the day. I wish he was here with us today.”

Shehzad’s younger brother, Usman, is now an airline pilot. He said: “I was six months old when my elder brother passed away yet through hearing all the stories and looking back at pictures it’s as though he never left us. 

“There’s been many occasions where I missed his presence immensely, such as when I graduated from flight school, the day I got my first pilot job and when I got married. 

“I know he is watching over me and I hope he is proud of my achievements.”

A lot is said when anyone dies and the words ‘peaceful’ and ‘good-natured’ come to mind. For those of us who knew Shehzad we will remember him as someone who was just that. 

He was more interested in his cricket and football than anything else and the softly-spoken, well-mannered teenager never wanted to be the centre of attention anywhere.

I, alongside some of my friends attended evening mosque classes with him at Masjide-e-Noor, Saunders Road. He joined the madressa from a young age and we recollect a boy who simply wanted to get on with his work. He was funny, intelligent and kind but, most of all, we remember a shy boy who through his teenage years was developing into an accomplished sportsman. 

A promising cricketer

On leaving Beardwood High School (formerly Billinge High School) the lanky teenager was recruited to play for a local cricket team and would attract onlookers from opposing matches who were keen to see this fearsome new fast bowler in action.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Shehzad is pictured here at cricket presentation evenings

Some may remember a memory of him going into bat with the odds and wickets stacked against him in a match at Pleasington Playing fields.  As a bowler he wasn’t expected to make many runs but the determined young man had other ideas.

He left the field, alongside his friend who was also the same age having chased down an almost impossible score. He was smiling throughout, the sign of a man enjoying his cricket and as they hit the winning runs he raised his bat to salute his team mates and gestured towards a small crowd which had gathered to watch the exciting finale to the match. Of course soon enough the semi-professional clubs came looking for him.

None of his friends and team mates have spoken publicly about their memories of Shehzad. It seems just the mention of his name would bring up all sorts of emotions.

Tufail Hussain was captain of his club at the time. He said, “We realised there and then that he was a special bowler. Once, we couldn’t accommodate him in the ‘A’ team. So, he rounded up all the players who we thought were too young or ‘not good enough’ and put his own side in a tournament.

“Amazingly his team came against us in the semi-final and he nearly single-handedly bowled out our whole side. We managed to scrape through with the tail between our legs and never made the same mistake again.

“People have many wonderful memories of him and for us he was just a great human being.”

Lancashire Telegraph:

Shehzad at Wensley Fold Primary School (above far left in white) and a plaque hangs ta St Mary's college in memory of their former student

Friend Abid Ditta, 43 is the same age as Shehzad would have been today. He is pictured alongside Shehzad in many of the images. He said, “We first became friends when we were in reception at Wensley Fold Primary and then we both spent time together at Billinge High School.

“We learnt our cricket with the tape ball and then aged just 14 we ended up playing at Pleasington with some of the adult teams.

“When we went to St Mary’s College after the trials they referred us to some semi-professional clubs. He was a wonderful bowler who would have gone on to play at a much higher level.

“Shehzad was an inspiration and was great at motivating and getting the best out of you, he always looked to help others and very humble.”

A school remembers

Shehzad begun his first year at Billinge High School in 1988.

Sue Powell, was Deputy Headteacher at the school at the time. She told us: “Twenty-five years after his murder it is sad to speculate upon what Shehzad would have accomplished by now. He was a bright boy, with a very promising future, both in his chosen field of engineering and in cricket. 

“He was a very well respected member of the school community and following his death his memory was celebrated annually at our awards evening.

“An award that always brought a tear to my eye and to the eye of many students and staff.

“Shehzad was a thoughtful and caring young man, whose death was a result of him, typically, trying to help others.”

Nazmun Usman was a community liaison officer at the school from 1991. She said,

“Shehzad will always be remembered for his warm smile, his courteous attitude and willingness to help anyone. He left the school two years after I joined Billinge. The news of his tragic death came as a huge shock to everyone and left the school community devastated. 

“My heart and prayers went out to his parents and family on that fateful day as it does today on the 25th anniversary of his death. I hope and pray his family have found comfort from the love that surrounds them from their loved ones and the wider community. I hope they have been able to find peace from their deep faith in Allah swt.”

Shehzad was in the second year of A-levels in business studies and sociology and was hoping to go to university to study sociology when he died.

A plaque hangs at St Mary’s College in memory of their former student.

We end as we began this tribute hearing from the words of Shehzad’s mother Walyat Begum who said, “Thank you to all his friends over the years for remembering him and treating me like he is always with us and with so much respect.

“He was my life, my best friend and no matter how many years pass he’ll always be remembered. He was, he is, and he always will be a part of my life till the day I reunite with him.”