Liverpool’s Mr. Dependable

Published : Aug 01, 2009 00:00 IST



Jamie Carragher has often captained Liverpool in the absence of Steven Gerrard and is one of only nine men to make over 500 appearances for the Anfield club. He also holds the distinction of being the first man to represent the club 100 times in European competition, breaking Ian Callaghan’s club record of 89 appearances along the way, writes Adam Bray.

In an age where many footballers seemingly change clubs at the slightest chance, whether it is for the money, the fame or after a falling out, Jamie Carragher is an exception. A genuine one-club man, Carragher is the embodiment of everything that is good about Liverpool. Fearless, aggressive and above all an outstanding defender, Carragher has been at the centre of Liverpool’s resurgence under Rafael Benitez.

While Steven Gerrard may be the team’s talisman, Carragher is unquestionably its heartbeat.

A hero of Liverpool’s 2005 UEFA Champions League victory in Istanbul, Carragher’s contribution was immense. Trailing 0-3 and humbled by a Kaka-inspired AC Milan, Carragher delivered a huge second-half performance as he repelled attack after attack to inspire the Reds to a famous victory.

The image of him collapsing with cramps after yet another last-ditch clearance but nevertheless refusing to stop battling on is one of the defining images of that evening in Turkey.

Such glory nights were a long way away, however, in 1997 when Carragher made his Liverpool debut at the age of 21 in a League Cup tie at Middlesbrough. His passion and enthusiasm impressed and his ability to operate anywhere in defence, and as a holding midfielder, ensured he became a regular starter under then manager Roy Evans.

Carragher’s international career also began to blossom and he racked up a one-time record 27 appearances for England Under-21s, many as captain. During this period he also gained his senior international debut under Kevin Keegan as a substitute against Hungary in 1999.

International football would, however, prove to be something of a frustration for Carragher. Despite being a respected and valued member of the England squad, Carragher could not force his way into a regular starting position under either Sven-Goran Eriksson or Steve McClaren.

After gaining 34 caps, he retired from international football in the summer of 2007 citing his continued frustration at a lack of opportunities. The same could not be said of his Kop career. An integral part of Gerard Houllier’s 2001 side, Carragher appeared 58 times that season and was rewarded with League Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup winners’ medals as Liverpool racked up the silverware under the Frenchman. However, it was not until Houllier’s successor Benitez joined the club in 2005 that Carragher gained the central defensive slot he craved. Alongside Sami Hyypia, he went on to form one of the best defensive partnerships in European football, inspiring the club to European Cup glory as well as another FA Cup victory the following year in 2006.

Carragher has often captained the team in the absence of Gerrard and is one of only nine men to make over 500 appearances for the Anfield club. He also holds the distinction of being the first man to represent the club 100 times in European competition, breaking Ian Callaghan’s club record of 89 appearances along the way.

Now into his early 30s, Carragher continues to lead Liverpool in his trademark uncompromising fashion as they search for the one trophy that eludes them — the Premier League.

Gerrard recently said of Carragher: “Even now, if he never played another game again, he is a legend. He’s won the treble, FA Cups and a Champions League. He’s sweated blood and guts for this club.”

Frustrated at being unable to displace John Terry and Rio Ferdinand at the heart of England’s defence and a victim of his own versatility, Carragher called time on international football in 2007 to concentrate on club matters at Liverpool. He has since resisted the attempts of both Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello to tempt him out of retirement.

Carragher — an Everton fan as a child — has also been afforded an especially hostile welcome whenever he has played at Goodison Park down the years following his decision to switch loyalties to city rivals Liverpool.

Carragher is married to his childhood sweetheart Nicola and the couple has two children together, James and Mia. Carragher’s vehicle of choice is a Range Rover Vogue 4.4 litre.

FACTFILEName: Jamie CarragherPosition: DefenderClub: LiverpoolD.O.B.: 28/01/1978England caps: 34England goals: 0England debut: April 1999 v HungaryMoment to remember

Undoubtedly Istanbul. One of the greatest comebacks of all time, Carragher, along with Hyypia, was the rock on which wave after wave of Milan attacks were repelled. His efforts ensured that Liverpool survived throughout normal and extra-time and emerged victorious following an astounding penalty shoot-out.

Moment to forget

Just 12 months after that night in Istanbul, Carragher experienced a rare low in his career when he — along with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard — all missed during a penalty shoot-out during World Cup 2006 as England crashed out in the quarterfinals against Portugal. To compound matters, Carragher had converted his first attempt from the spot before being forced to retake.

© PA Sport, 2009, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.

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