Today sees the arrival of a long awaited day in the football calendar of Liverpool FC – the testimonial for Mr James Lee Duncan Carragher, or ‘Carra’ as he is affectionately known as. A full house awaits for what promises to be a wonderful and memorable occasion for the player and fans alike. In what is sure to be a celebration of our number 23′s career & service to the only club he has known, it will also be a sad day – yes I said sad; as it clearly means we are nearing the end of his playing days in front of his beloved ‘Kop’.
Born in Bootle in 1978, Jamie Carragher joined the reds in 1990 and first came to prominence in 1996 when he was part of the victorious Liverpool team that won the FA Youth Cup alongside his great friend Michael Owen – more about him later!
That same year Carra signed his first professional contract and made his debut under the guidance of Roy Evans. This came as a substitute in a league cup second leg tie against Boro. His first league start for the reds was against Aston Villa at Anfield in January 1998 – a match in which he scored his first goal and what would be a rare one for the club.
Little did most fans know how iconic this young lad from Bootle would become. Despite scoring not one but TWO own goals against you know who during the 99-00 season, Carragher went on to win his first senior honours in the memorable ‘treble’ season a year later, even managing to add to his goal tally with a penalty in the shoot-out against Birmingham in the League Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Recovering from a broken leg following a horrific tackle from Lucas Neill, Carra went on to gain a place in England’s Euro 2004 squad. Three Lions would always be a source of huge frustration for Jamie – his undoubted versatility and the selection of others less deserving and capable ensured he would leave the international stage with far fewer caps than his ability, attitude and passion deserved.
It would be the arrival of Rafa that would see the play anywhere scouser find a more permanent role – at the heart of the reds defence. Yeats, Hughes, Thompson (Phil not David!), Hansen, Hyypia – now Carragher!. Playing 56 times alongside the big Finn during 04/05 season Carra will be best remembered for his outstanding second half and extra time display against Milan on that never to be forgotten night in Istanbul. The images of his last ditch interception, his face echoing the pain of cramp will live long in the memory.
Having now played over 630 games for our club, Jamie will lead his team out against ‘that lot’ from across Stanley Park. Typical of the man, the ‘Legend’ all proceeds will got to ’23 Foundation’ which seeks to provide the youth of Merseyside with the means to make a difference in society by giving them an outlet through football and sport.
Among those taking to the hallowed turf at Anfield will be Manchester Utd’s Michael Owen. Carra has asked for fans to give him a good reception as he feels his record and service for Liverpool is deserving of it. I’m not sure his Anfield record will spare him from those who feel travelling along the East Lancs Road is not a journey a ‘red’ should make.
We all dream of a team of Carragher’s – loyal, enthusiastic, dependable, versatile, passionate and red through and through. Carra – we salute you!
Follow us on twitter @live4Liverpool
Live4Liverpool is recruiting columnists. For further info contact the site editor at firstname.lastname@example.org