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Gerrard the best since Charlton -- Carragher

Jamie Carragher believes Steven Gerrard is second only to Bobby Charlton in the list of all-time great midfielders to play in England.

After witnessing Gerrard dismantle Everton in Tuesday's Merseyside derby, the Liverpool defender says his Anfield team-mate has already proven he is the best ever to play for his club and deserves more national recognition for his achievements.

Carragher said: "We all know he's in the upper echelons when it comes to Liverpool players, with most having him either first or second behind Kenny Dalglish, but when you look at a list of the greats to play in English football I'd say he is second only to Bobby Charlton in terms of the best midfielders there have ever been.

"You'd put Charlton No 1 -- not only for his achievements with Manchester United, but because of the 1966 World Cup. Beyond that you'd have Graeme Souness, Alan Ball, Dave Mackay, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Glenn Hoddle, Paul Gascoigne, Frank Lampard and Bryan Robson.

"For me, Stevie has eclipsed all of those for what he has done for Liverpool and England."

Given how highly he rates the 31-year-old, it is no surprise Carragher strongly disagreed with the decision of England caretaker manager Stuart Pearce not to hand him the national team's armband.

"I was shocked by that decision," said Carragher. "Scott Parker is a great player and everyone respects him, but Steven Gerrard should be England captain. He was captain in the World Cup, has been one of the best players for his country for 10 years and there was no debate to be had for me.

"Whoever the England manager is, Gerrard should be captain and he should have been against Holland."

Gerrard's derby performance has ignited a debate as to whether the midfielder is the finest to ever wear the Liverpool jersey, with his manager Dalglish rivalling his captain for the accolade. Carragher has no doubt.

"I believe he is the best," said Carragher. "Dalglish, Souness and Ian Rush all played together in a great team, but because football is a team game it's been harder for Stevie because he's not always played in great teams.

Comparing Gerrard and Rush in two classic FA Cup finals, the first in 2006 in which the midfielder scored twice in Liverpool's 3-3 thrilling draw, which they won on penalties, and Rush's crucial intervention in Liverpool's 3-1 victory over Everton in 1986, the defender still has the England international on top.

"For me, his performance in the 2006 FA Cup final stands out even more than Ian Rush in the 1986 FA Cup final, and he's also regularly produced it in the major events such as the 2005 Champions League final," said Carragher.

"I think it's a case with Stevie that people will not fully realise how good he has been until he stops playing.

"It's been harder for him in many ways because when you spend an entire career at one club, the supporters see you as a youngster, remember all the mistakes you've made growing up, and then when you get towards the end start to ask if you're the same player any more.

"But none of the players who've played alongside him would dispute he's the best the club has ever had, and I would hope none of the managers would, either." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent