Liverpool Focus – Carragher bows out after glittering and gutsy career

Jamie Carragher – 737 appearances, Champions League, UEFA Cup, (twice) UEFA Super Cup, (twice) FA Cup and (three-time) League Cup winner. The tough-tackling Liverpool centre-half has an impressive CV and should have no problem finding a five-a-side team to join after he hangs up his boots on Sunday. However, all those dazzling trophies, medals and cups tell only half of Carragher’s amazing Liverpool story.

For when you ask a Liverpool supporter to think of their favourite moment of Carragher’s illustrious career, an image of the 35-year-old defender roaming around the Ataturk Stadium while lifting the Reds’ fifth European Cup is unlikely to spring to mind. Instead, they will recall the time when Carragher was suffering from cramp in Istanbul, but still managed to put his body on the line and prevent Milan from scoring an extra-time winner.

It is this unrivalled commitment which has made him such a hero on the Kop. When was the last time Carragher gave less than 100% in a game? That is, of course, a trick question. There has never been such a time. Some will argue that the ageing, Bootle-born centre-back does not possess the natural talent of other players. Whether that is true or not is questionable, but there are players who supposedly have all the talent in the world but fail to rise up the ranks due to a lack of total commitment.

The opposite is true of Carragher. He does have limitations in some aspects of his game – Carragher has never been blessed with great pace or attacking verve – but his desire and hunger to be the best have seen him make over 700 appearances for one of the biggest clubs in world football – an exceptional achievement.

Great leadership has also played a key role in Carragher’s career. In fact, had it not been for his leadership and organisational skills, Liverpool’s No. 23 would not have played many games for the club over the last five months. Brendan Rodgers only drafted him back into the first-team in January because of these skills and the manager has never looked back, as Carragher has performed admirably in Martin Skrtel’s place.

To work your way up the pecking order at the age of 35 and replace Liverpool’s player of the year of 2012 is not an easy task, but is one which Carragher has managed. That he ends the season as arguably the Reds’ best centre-back says a lot about the competitiveness and desire of this unique one-club man.

When Carragher announced his retirement in February, there were some who believed that the player would soon reconsider his decision. But that will not happen. Carragher will instead join Sky Sports in a media role next season. He will not be coming back. With that in mind, Sunday should be an emotional affair for all involved – the player, his teammates, the staff and the fans, who have seen him grow from a boy into a man over the last 17 years.

Many will claim that Carragher has shown enough quality in recent months to suggest he could play at the top level for another year. But instead, the Reds’ legend wants to go out on a high. How fitting for a player who reached the very top with England’s most successful club.

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