Carra - The greatest on and off the field, always a joker!

At Valentine's day Jamie Carragher, scouser through and through, played his 400th game for Liverpool. The occasion was Liverpool's win against Arsenal. As in his previous 399 games Carra left the field in the knowledge that he had done his best for Liverpool Football Club. Thereby Jamie became the 24th Liverpool player to play 400 games or more. It is quite rare, at least in modern times, for a Liverpool player to get to 400 games. Carra became the first Liverpool player in nine years to reach this landmark. John Barnes was the last one in 1997. Barnes played his 400 game only two months after Carra made his debut.

I don't go on the websites or anything but I believe there's murder there after a game if we have got beaten. But I'm not kidding people, if the team were to get beaten then I know I'd be one of the first to get criticised!"

Carra in 2003

You don't really have to say to much about Carra because all Liverpool supporters know what he stands for. Carra is simply one of the leaders of the European champions. He is not only one of the backbones of the side on the playing field. He is also very influential off it. He is a key figure in keeping the team spirit at its best with his scouse humour. He is also a great role model for youngsters and has done a lot of charity work. That part of Carra's life has not been in the limelight but quite a lot of his money have gone to worthy causes. This is typical for Carra. He just goes on with it and doesn't feel any need for to being in the spotlight. But he was rewarded for his work and all other his achievements earlier this year when he was granted the freedom of Sefton. For all his work on and off the pitch Carra has reached legend status amongst the supporters of Liverpool who regard him as one of them. 

"He's the joker of the squad alright. Carra is always the life and soul of the party. If we win a game and go out to celebrate, he's the first one of the microphone. He's straight on stage and trying to get everyone else to get up and have a go. We reckon he fancies himself as a bit of a singer on the quiet. He's not bad either, although I'm not sure if I should say that! Every club needs someone like Carra. You can't buy team spirit and with him around the atmosphere in the dressing room is always brilliant."

Chris Kirkland

Carra was first noticed as a member of the Liverpool youth cup winning team in 1996. He started his career with the first team at the Riverside on the 8th of January 1997 when he came on as sub for Rob Jones in the 75th minute. Liverpool lost that League cup game 2-1. 10 days later he was for the first time in the starting line-up against Aston Villa in the league. He played as a defensive midfielder which was his main position in those days. He surprised everybody by scoring with a header against Villa. This didn't though seem to impress Evans and he was on the bench in the next game and didn't make an appearance for the rest of the season! 

Carra did get a chance again in September 1997. He played two games in defence but after Rob Jones had recovered from injury he was put back into midfield. He played three games before he got injured and was out for a month. He played four games in a row before Paul Ince's return to midfield after suspension and injury. Carra got another chance at the end of January and started in 11 of the 16 games that were left of the season.

Carragher played 44 games in the 1998-99 season when Evans and Houllier were together at the helm. Carra was now in central defence and played mostly beside Phil Babb or Steve Staunton and sometimes the good old 5-3-2 was used. Henchoz and Hyypia was the perfect pairing according to Houllier in the 1999-200 season and Carra was moved to right-back and then was moved around the team where he was needed most. He also played left-back, centre-half and in midfield. He started 37 of 43 games that season.

"Although you've got a mix of German, Swiss and Finnish in the back four, we all speak to each other in English. The only problem, though, is that none of us can understand Jamie Carragher!" - Stephane Henchoz

"When the news came through on the TV, I nearly choked on my cornflakes."
Jamie Carragher, overjoyed at the news of Steven Gerrard's transfer U-turn

The Bootle lad played usually at left-back in the treble season as Markus Babbel had arrived from Bayern Munich. Next season he was moved to right-back in Babbel's absence through illness. Riise impressed in turn at left-back.

Carragher was on the bench in the beginning of the 2002-2003 season preferring Xavier and Traore as full-backs. He didn't have to wait long to regain his right-back position with Riise usually on the left. The first half of the 2003-2004 season was ruined when he broke his leg against Blackburn on 13th September 2003. He returned though quite early in January 2004 and played either on the right or left depending on if Steve Finnan was in the team.

Rafa Benítez became Liverpool's new manager in the 2004-2005 season and he was quick to see that centre-half was Carragher's best position. He has since flourished after finding his place after years of going from one position to another.

"There's no point sulking about it. There's not a lot you can do, except impress the manager in training and in games. Or find out his (Finnan's) address and send the boys round!"

Carra was asked by Sky Sports about the arrival of Steve Finnan

Carra was one of the players that Gerard Houllier put his faith in and Rafael Benítez has also done that. His manager's words on the eve of Carra's 400th game tell their own story. "It's more difficult for a player to stay at the same club for a long time now and even more so to play the number of games he has. All the time I've known Carragher he's managed to do something even more difficult. Not only has he played at a lot of games, he's been able to do so at a very high level and be so consistent. For me, it's a fantastic achievement and it's fantastic for me to have someone who is such a good professional."

The games for Liverpool are now 400 and altough the goals are only three you can not imagine the number of goals Carra has prevented. Carra has won eight major honours with Liverpool. He won the League cup in 2001 and 2003. The FA Cup and the UEFA Cup was won in 2001 as well as the Charity Shield and the European Super Cup. In 2005 he added the European Cup and another European Super Cup to his collection. He led Liverpool to last year's Super Cup win as captain. This season Carra was an integral part of the Liverpool defence that kept a club record eleven consecutive clean sheets. Added to this all are 22 caps for the England senior team and 27 games for the under 21 team which is still a record.

Carragher is 10 times a better defender than I could ever be. He is a completely different player. He is a great defender whereas I was not. My strengths were on the ball, positional sense and recovery pace. The way he held Chelsea at bay was unbelievable. I'm sitting there in awe of how many times he intercepted, blocked and covered. I think if we look at Liverpool greats over the years - and there have been a lot of them - Carragher is up there with the best of them."

Alan Hansen in May 2005

Nobody will claim that Carra has the skill of the finer artists among football players. But he has the fighting spirit and the will to win that many other players can only dream of. A typical image of Carra in the minds of Liverpool supporters was the one when he lay on the Ataturk pitch in agony after having cleared the danger late in the game. His cramp didn't stop him. He went back on his feet an soldiered on to the final whistle. At the end of Liverpool's shoot-out win he won the race to reach Jerzy Dudek first and celebrate Liverpool's historic European Cup win. The cramp didn't stop him in that race! Armored with these qualities you can be sure, injuries permitting, that Carra will add well to his tally of 400 games for Liverpool for many years to come. Ian Callaghan's long standing record of 857 games for Liverpool will probably never be broken. But Carra will be a lot closer to it when he finally plays his last game for Liverpool.

Congratulations Carra!

"When I say life, I mean it. I want to stay here. When I say that, it's not talk, I really mean it. I mean I'm not kidding myself, I don't think I'm going to go any higher than Liverpool. If your club's in the Champions League that's the ultimate and obviously you want to win trophies.

I've been lucky enough to do that here in the past and I want to win bigger trophies now, the Champions League and the Premiership. We're not at that level yet but the new manager, if he can bring in a few more players, can get us to that level. I've never even thought about leaving."

Carra in March 2005

Copyright - Sigfus & Arnie


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