It seems to be a week for retirements particularly for current, and ex Mancs. The best and most pointless, given his recent participation in that area, was Rio Ferdinand announcing his retirement from international football. Still it’s good trend so I’m now going to take a leave out of Rio’s book by announcing to the world my retirement from brain surgery and professional snooker!
For Liverpool this weekend will see Jamie Carragher take his last competitive bow for us. Our opponents, Queens Park Rangers, aren’t as sniffy and aloof as Arsenal and will form part of guard of honour to give Jamie a deserved send off. As this game is something of a “dead rubber” I hope everyone will concentrate on the big man and give him a deserved and memorable send off.
Yesterday Carragher was asked how he would like to be remembered. He replied
“A decent lad who had a go”
With respect to Jamie although this is true it is also a serious underestimation, not to mention modest, appraisal of want he’s given to the game. As I’m writing this Arsene Wenger is on the TV talking about David Beckham. He’s using words such as “respect”, “passion”, “strength”, “commitment” and “dedication” and being an “example”. All of this also applies to Jamie Carragher. I would also add longevity, determination, pride and a refusal to be undermined particularly when it came to Liverpool FC.
Defenders have come and gone but JC has outlived them and despite, fierce competition still managed to see of their threats. Even this season when you could forgive BR for looking to the future and investing in youth Carragher still bounced back and featured in the team after Christmas to the point that BR wished to extend his contract. His versatility undoubtedly helped (he could play at centre or full back and even, albeit rarely, in midfield) but it’s almost as if he’s saying this is my city, my club and my place in the team and you might replace me for a bit but you are going to have to be dam good to do it permanently! Seven hundred plus appearances for us prove that he had the upper hand and that you can’t keep a good man, or a good player, down?
Then there was his England career. All to often this was forgotten as mangers went for Terry and Ferdinand. Brassed off with this Carragher retired in 2007. Someone on Talksport said he lacked bottle for doing that which is the equivalent of suggesting that when it comes to drinking Oliver Reed is a lightweight. Carragher’s on the pitch spirit transferred itself to the phone call he made to the presenter as he let him have it with both barrels! Significantly it was Carragher that Fabio Capello turned to when he had a defensive problem in the 2010 World Cup and he successfully coaxed him out of retirement, another comeback!
Another example of Jamie’s refusal to give to give up was went he broke his leg via Blackburn’s Lucas Neill tackle however, and despite threats from more new signings, he returned and featured in the miracle of Istanbul and became a permanent fixture in Rafa’s sides. Surely Istanbul must be first and foremost in Carragher’s mind when looking back over his career. He was immense in that game and seemed, at breaking point. There was one stage late in the game where he appeared to collapse with cramp but he got up and carried on and was able to advise Jerzy Dudek to adopt Bruce Grobbelaar’s wobbly legs routine in the penalty shootout. Surely for him and Steven Gerrard, given their birth place and the clubs history, this was the moment, the time where their dreams became a reality and they themselves secured a part in the clubs history that they’d been all too aware of during their youth and early years with the club?
Many have suggested that Carragher would be and ideal candidate to go into management. They say he lives and breathes football and has definite opinions on the game however he has opted to become one of the numerous ex reds that have gone into football punditry. Perhaps this will sate his appetite for the game without the added pressure? May be it’s just a breather, time to take stock before he really decides what to do? Whatever the case I can’t see him being away from the game too long..
Tomorrow, in addition to the guard of honour, the Kop will display a mosaic, the advertising boards will display messages and there will be numerous flags – take note Mancs that is how to say goodbye to someone properly! Surely this will be an emotional moment for Jamie however, yesterday he was trying to keep his feet on the ground.
“Everyone has an opinion as to whatever you are a good or bad player as long as everyone thought I put in shift in, home and away”
You can’t argue with that but as those of us who were privileged to see him play know, Jamie Carragher gave much than that.