Yesterday saw the testimonial of Jamie Carragher who celebrates fourteen years in a red shirt.
These sort of games are normally organised after a player has served ten years with a club however, Jamie Carragher is no ordinary player. Lesser players might have forced the issue in anticipation of a pay day but Carragher said the timing wasn’t right and anyway he wanted the money to go to local charities
The game ended Liverpool 4 Everton 1. Luis Garcia opened the scoring with a beauty into the top corner. Then Jamie added the second via a cheeky penalty. Joe Cole, after a good link up with Ryan Babel, proved the third and then Nathan Eccleston finished things off. In between Jamie also scored for Everton via an “own goal penalty” it was after all a testimonial! The game saw a host of players past and present turn out. Michael Owen received a mixed reception, Gary McAllister and Jason McAteer rolled back the years whilst Steven Gerrard showed where the heart is by making an appearance less than twenty four hours after playing for England.
Where do you start with someone like Jamie Carragher? When writing all this stuff I’ve often thought that I should pay more attention to the key players in the side. A lot of my drivel seems to be about those who don’t do what people should expect of them or those who, occasionally, exceed expectations. Players such as Gerrard and Torres tend to get ignored normally because they deliver so why the need to comment? The only time they get a real mention is when they are injured or make an uncharacteristic mistake or, in the case of Gerrard and Torres, are the subject of transfer rumours. Of course this is wrong, they should be praised on a regular basis, they mean so much to the fans and are an integral part of the side.
Jamie Carragher falls into this category and probably, because he is a defender and doesn’t score goals, gets even less of a mention. This is wrong. Carragher and Gerrard are part of a select group of regular first teamers who have were born and bred in the city. However, with respect to Gerrard, perhaps it is Carragher who above anyone epitomises Liverpool and I guess that is why the song “We all dream of team of Carraghers” was born and why they say that although Gerrard is the heartbeat of the team, Carragher is it’s soul?
Amid all the recent off and on field turmoil Carragher has remained a steadying influence. As Rafa went through a period of chopping and changing his defence as regularly as he changed his underwear Carragher remained, sometimes at left back (where he started with us) and then mainly at centre back. He was solid and dependable and ready to fight the course when the going got tough. It says a lot about the player and his value to the side that even Rafa wouldn’t rotate him!
Clearly I can’t claim to know Carragher which makes writing something like this difficult as part of the players appeal is the sort of man he is. Robbie Fowler and fellow Scouser who represented his city at football (a rare breed these days) said…
“I always smile when I hear the Kop singing about dreaming of ‘a team of Carraghers’ because if that’s what we’d had during his time at the club, we’d have won everything there is to win twice over.
I know this is a look back over his career and I’ve got so many stories that I could tell about him but, unfortunately, I don’t think any of them are suitable for printing on these pages. Let’s just say he’s a colourful character and leave it at that!
But, in all seriousness, to have played for Liverpool since 1997 is a phenomenal achievement and he deserves all the records and medals he has picked up along the way.
It could have happened to a nicer lad.
I’ve been fortunate to play with him and I know how tough he is to play against”
That quote says it all about Carragher a mixture personal and professional regard. I hope I have an inkling of where Carragher is coming from. He is no different from most footballers in the sense that he is always ready to give quotes and offer opinion however unlike the vast majority; they are usually worth listening to because of their honesty and the lack of a self regarding tone. In short Carragher never ever sounds like he is up his own arse!
I’m loath to use the England team as an example of this. We all know Carragher has rightly put club before country in a way that that I will always admire him for. However, no one can blame him for taking up the opportunity after a few years of international retirement to play in South Africa this year. It didn’t go well and players such as John Terry sought to use this as a medium to try and seek favour and turnaround for recent misdemeanours by callously trying to tap into the nation’s mood and bring things to ahead re Capello. Carragher with scant regard for this nonsense simply told it as he saw it. Of Capello he said
“I got on great with him and he was great with me. Just the way he was – no messing – made me laugh every day”
Sometimes you simply have to take things or people as they are and if you can find humour in it to iron out any conflict then so be it. Reading between the lines, regardless of what you think about Fabio Capello, that quote says more about the attitude and arrogance of John Terry and his pretentious ilk compared to Jamie’s more pragmatic mature approach. Who would you prefer to deal with?
Other thoughts. When I think of Istanbul I think of many things but I guarantee you that it takes me hardly any time before I think of Jamie Carragher. His performance in that game was inspirational. It was 100% but when did he ever not give this? Above all the main thing was the circumstances of the game and what the outcome must have meant to him as home grown player? However in a way the stature of the game was irrelevant. Any of you who have played in a football team, be it at whatever level, knows that the eleven is comprised of different individuals with different attitudes and different levels of skill. In a way it’s a microcosm of life. Jamie Carragher is the sort of player in the team that isn’t always appreciated every time you play but occasionally he does or says something that brings you back down to earth and makes you realise just how valued and important he is. Sometimes you only realise his importance after he has gone. I guess soon some will realise that with Jamie?
So while he is still with us, he should be appreciated. Above all look at the way football is going these days look at the players and the way they are. Look at Jamie Carragher, he is a refreshing and reassuring one off and I’m so glad he wears a red shirt.