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Jamie Carragher – A Final Tribute To The Legend

When Jamie Carragher recently announced his retirement from professional football to be effective from next season onwards, “irreplaceable” was the word heard most from all quarters.  For a 35-year old and more than 700 appearances veteran, the word irreplaceable holds much significance and goes on to show what has been his impact on the club that he joined when he was only nine years old. Now that he has finally decided to hang up his boots, a huge void is being left in the team and the dressing room, a void hard to fill by the club in the near future, a void which would not be overcame by some mere signings.

Jamie Carragher announces retirement
Jamie Carragher announces retirement

Now when a person speaks of Carragher and his greatness, the one thing which one cannot choose to avoid is his compromising nature and his willingness to take up any role for his team. There have never been any question marks on his ability as a defender but what sets him apart from others is his selfless attitude which has been highlighted throughout his playing career.

After making his debut in 1996 for the senior side, he was used in all the positions such as centre-half, full-back, defensive midfielder and wing-back. While this may have been great for the club, which had the liberty to fill any space with his service, this hampered his playing style and was primarily one of the reasons why he could not master any particular slot. But instead of complaining against the injustice that was being served to him, Carragher chose to concentrate on the game and serve his club in whatever way possible.

In the modern era of violent media attention, where very frequently the players are diverted from their primary focus and are often left with just a step away greatness, Jamie Carragher was among a rare breed of footballers who always chose to remain low-key, abstained from the spotlight and only had football in his mind. This was a very important factor as why he could cope up with the ongoing negative media attention that Liverpool generated, by being labelled as the “Spice Boys”, and it was always the battle on-field which motivated him, rather than the battle outside.

Liverpool’s ways of employing Carragher also hampered his playing career for his nation. Right from his early days for England, he has been made to fit into different positions, denying him the opportunity to flourish in any particular slot. His best shot as an England international could have been the 2002 World Cup, but it was his misfortune that he had to miss the entire tournament due to an injury.

In 2006 World Cup he received the opportunity to represent his nation, but this time also calamity struck as his missed penalty kick led to England’s early exit from the Cup to Portugal in the quarter finals stage. He scored from the first attempt, only to be revealed that he had taken the kick before the referee had blown his whistle. He was made to take the kick a second time which he missed, eventually leading to his nation’s exit.

These events and his lack of game time for England frustrated him so much that he decided to call off his days from international football in 2007. He was said to be dejected at the failure of his national team managers to utilise his potential to the fullest extent and thought that he was denied a fair chance to show his mettle as a centre-back. But his greatness was again highlighted when he decided to come off his retirement to play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Due to injury of a number of key players, Carragher was required to fill in the slot which he did with panache. England was eliminated as early as the knock-out stage and it was time for Carragher to finally hang his boots up.

It was as late as 2004-05 season when Carragher was finally moved to the centre-half position in the team under new manager Rafael Benitez and it was his brilliant last ditch stoppages, in spite of a muscular cramp, which denied AC Milan two goals in the UEFA Champion’s League final, which ultimately Liverpool won on penalties. This performance and many similar ones made him the Liverpool Player of the Year, a year that saw him end the season with the Champion’s League and the UEFA Super Cup.

In his illustrious career for Liverpool, Carragher has received numerous accolades and has accumulated many silverwares for the club. He has till now put his name on one Champions League, two FA Cups, three League Cups, one UEFA Cup and two UEFA Super Cups. His 723 appearances till date put him only behind Ian Callaghan in the club’s all time appearances record, a statistic which would be envied upon by generations to come.

Now that Jamie Carragher has finally decided to end his professional football career after the end of the current season, he will be missed more than ever and it will be his adhesiveness, with which he held the team together through every thick and thin, which will be craved for the most. His name will be forever written in golden letters at the club which has produced a lot of other legends and his self sacrifice for his boyhood club will forever be the element of inspiring football stories. Maybe he would not be running around with the ball anymore in the red shirt, but this Liverpool legend will forever be present in the hearts of the Liverpool fans and players alike.

Jamie Carragher, bid adieu.