“AVENGERS” hunk Captain America CHRIS EVANS’ loving remembrance of a dead pal.

His best friend as a boy, Matt Bardsley, died in an off-roading accident al­most a decade ago, and Chris, 30, carries the mem­ory with him on a daily basis in a tattoo inscribed on his stomach.

It reads: “In Loving Memory, Bardsley, With Me Always.”

The words are an indelible tribute to his pal, who died at the age of 22 in November 2003 – but not be­fore setting Chris on the road to success.

“Matt Bardsley was Chris’ best friend growing up in Massachusetts,” a buddy of the star told The ENQUIRER.

“Chris wanted to become an actor, but he didn’t know whether he was good enough. Matt en­couraged him, told him that he could do it. So after he died, Chris dedicated his career to him.”

He made his mark playing the lead in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” and reprises his role in “The Avengers,” based on the legendary comic book superhero team.

In a deeply moving tradition tradi­tion, Chris goes back to New England each year to meet up with high school friends and pay homage to their late pal.

Chris is master of cer­emonies at an annual golf charity event called Birdies for Bardsley, which supports the local tee ball league and gives youngsters their first expo­sure to organized baseball and sportsmanship, said the source.

“Chris and his pals always raise a glass to the memory of Matt, and Chris says, ‘Here’s to you, my friend! I wouldn’t be where I am without you. Cheers!’”