Friday 24 March 2017

Liverpool woe was key factor in Carragher's England comeback

Henry Winter in Austria

WHEN Jamie Carragher was phoned by his trusted adviser, Struan Marshall, he was in for the surprise of his life. "Guess who I've had a call off?'' asked Marshall. Carragher loves a quiz. "I went through 10 names finishing with my dad,'' recalled the defender yesterday. All wrong.

Marshall had been contacted by Franco Baldini, England's general manager, ringing on behalf of Fabio Capello to inquire whether the Liverpool centre-half was ready to end his international exile. "It was a big shock, yes,'' said Carragher, sitting in a wooden hut that needed only Franz Klammer and the Von Trapp family to complete the Austrian Alpine idyll.

To hear that Capello rated him highly was the sound of music to Carragher's ears. "It was a bit of a boost,'' reflected Carragher. "You go to bed that night racking your brains. I thought about the situation of other players and how they would react if I came back. The lads have been to Kazakhstan and Ukraine, all kinds of (2010 qualifying) trips, and I didn't want to just jump in on the party.

desperate

"I only spoke to Stevie (Gerrard) because I was told it had to be kept quiet. Stevie was desperate for me to be involved. We're best mates at the club. He would rather have me there than not, for his own sake, really. There was only Stevie and my wife at first because we were supposed to be going to Disneyland on Monday -- so that's off! I spoke to them and then a few days later to my dad and my son and everybody was desperate for me to go.''

Having made unflattering remarks about his 34-cap England experience in his autobiography, Carragher thought of how the fans will respond. "I couldn't complain if there wasn't a great reaction. The stuff I mentioned in my book, it wasn't so much a slight on England, it was more that Liverpool means that much to me."

He thought of whether it would be for this summer only. "I've got a testimonial for Liverpool on September 4! Hopefully if I go to South Africa it's a one-off because the injury situation will have been cleared up for next season.''

He thought of the reasons that triggered his retreat into the international wilderness in 2007.

"Liverpool had come off the back of two Champions League finals then. I'm not in that situation now. That what's changed. I was just so desperate to do well over the next two or three years for Liverpool.

"I thought I could get myself right for Liverpool and really help us win the league. But this season, with how it's gone, at my age you want to play at the highest level possible as long as possible and the highest level is the World Cup and the Champions League.'' (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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