Jamie boots hard to fill
THE Kop dreamed of a team of Carraghers. Now they have to come to terms with the realisation they will not be able to worship a single one next season.
Jamie Carragher's decision to quit all football at the end of the campaign will leave not only a huge hole in the centre of Liverpool's defence but a void in the very fabric of the club.
For 16 years the fiercely loyal Bootle-born centre-back has brought a tenacity and passion to the Reds defence only a local lad who came good could do.
Carragher is a rare breed, a one-club man in the mould of team-mate Steven Gerrard and modern-day contemporaries in Manchester United rivals Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
It seems unlikely, even with the growing success and the burgeoning promise of the club's academy, his ilk will ever be seen again.
His current tally of 723 senior appearances is bettered by only one man – Ian Callaghan – in the club's 121-year glittering history.
Carragher lives and breathes Liverpool, even though he grew up supporting Everton, and football in general and will continue to do so even when he eventually hangs up his boots in May.
And although manager Brendan Rodgers may find a replacement for his talent, he will struggle to find someone with the defender's desire to give his all for the cause.
Even his most ardent fans would agree the 35-year-old was never the most talented or technically-gifted defender of his generation – but what he lacked in those areas he made up in others.
Carragher has never given less than 100pc and has never allowed anyone else in his team to either.
A committed opponent – never one to shirk a tackle – and a superb organiser, his voice has always been the one which can be heard over all the others on the field.
While Liverpool captain Gerrard leads by deed, Carragher does so by all means necessary.
A perfect encapsulation of his attitude came in the 2005 Champions League final victory, the pinnacle of a career spanning three decades, during a spell of play which even Carragher believes he will be best remembered for. Having already denied Kaka and Andrei Shevchenko late in the second half of their remarkable 3-3 comeback the Liverpool vice-captain, severely stricken with cramp in extra-time, summoned one more show of strength to block another Shevchenko shot.
"I hadn't thought twice about throwing my body in the way," recalled Carragher in his autobiography. "Whatever grief it was going to cause me for a few seconds was nothing compared to how I'd have felt had I hesitated and watched him score."
You cannot buy that sort of attitude in the transfer market, it stems from an inner determination to do your absolute best for a club which has been part of your being for three-quarters of your life.
Carragher has always understood the privilege of playing for Liverpool and yesterday's announcement means the club's Scouse heartbeat has become a little fainter.