Kop Legends

700 Examples Of Passion & Commitment, In Red

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AFTER starting the Europa League qualifier against FC Gomel, Jamie Carragher has now passed the 700 game barrier for Liverpool.

I have a lot of fond memories of Carra, and he has become someone I will tell my children fond stories of when I am older and they are watching the centre halves of the future. I have no doubt that they will be coached at some point in the Liverpool structure by Carragher himself. A student of the game in every way imaginable, Carra is destined to go into coaching, management or both in the near future.

In terms of passion and commitment and understanding what it means to be a Liverpool player, I can think of nobody better to instil these attitudes.

I have grown up with Carragher’s Liverpool career and in fact I was there on the Kop the day he scored his first goal for the club which was actually on his first start. After getting booked inside of 30 seconds for booting Andy Townsend, the young Carragher scored in front of the Kop with a header from a second half corner. The Jamie Carragher then, and the Jamie Carragher of now are two completely different people.

In his book, Carra talks of his time at the club beginning with more interest in Everton’s results, communicating with his dad and finding out the scores at half time and so on. He was also a bit of a wild child, causing a bit of bother at the odd Christmas party. Gerard Houllier was keen for him to settle down which he eventually did. And Carra is now the model professional, a businessman and a charity man. A far cry from the hot headed young kid who once lobbed a coin into a crowd.

One of the most interesting things about Carragher is his versatility and the way he has constantly adapted his game over years depending on the needs of the team. Under Houllier he became a constant starter, playing virtually every game at left back. Very much right footed, Jamie worked hard on improving his left foot and his form paid dividends. He was an instrumental part of the team that won the cup treble in 2001 and was always defensively sound, even if his crossing was much criticised.

He also played at right back and centre half under Houllier, but Carragher really grew into the role of central defender under Benitez in 2004/2005, which was when I first got my season ticket. I was initially annoyed when the Spaniard broke up the partnership of Hyypia and Henchoz when he bombed the Swiss out. But to give Benitez his due he pulled a master stroke. Carragher would go on to put in some of the best displays I have ever seen in our rope-a-dope tactics as we got to Istanbul, especially against Chelsea in a backs-to-the-wall defensive display at Anfield.

In the Attaturk our solid defence would crumble (thanks to Benitez not playing Didi Hamann but that’s one of the many remarkable tales from that glorious night) and the first half was a horror show. In extra time, I will never forget Carragher cramping up as he made block after block, interception after heroic interception, putting his body through hell time and time again. It’s not often you can say a centre half has had a great game when you’ve let three in, but Carragher’s performance was a complete inspiration. Extra time was just a procession of fantastic last ditch defending. JC has made a career out of it, and very few do it better.
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In the later years of the Benitez era, and at times under Dalglish, Carragher would occasionally return to right back. As Father Time caught up with him, this was not a good position for Carra to play as he couldn’t get up and down as much as a right back needed to; full back being one of the most demanding positions to play in terms of fitness. He is an out and out centre half now, his days on the flanks truly behind him. But JC can still play an important role.

At the moment he might not be first choice, but Agger and Skrtel can’t play every game. Coates needs to be eased in alongside experienced players. I think there’s scope for Carragher to play a lot for Liverpool next season.

Will he adapt to the Brendan Rodgers “style” and “system?” It’s a valid concern, as Carra can be too direct with his no nonsense approach. But it’s not like he is a hit and hope player, he is a good footballer. He’s not Agger and he’s never likely to play the ball out 45 yards at his feet making a break into the opposition half, but he can use the ball well. The reputation he’s got of just lumping it long all the time is an unfair one – but he does need to cut down on it. If there’s nothing on there’s nothing on but Rodgers’ whole gameplan rests around keeping the ball. That is a concern but he’s hardly alone, our ball retention last year was dreadful at times.

But looking back over 700 games… what a career, what a servant. He might not reach 800, I don’t know how long he intends to play on for and he’s probably not first choice currently. Time might be catching up with Carragher but he has had an illustrious and fantastic career with Liverpool, winning every medal apart from the one we all want him to have. Carra is a fantastic reader of the game, brave, committed and passionate about Liverpool Football Club.

So happy 700th JC – thanks for everything so far, and let’s hope there’s more memories to be made in the near future.

What’s your finest Carra memory? Share it with us below…
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I'm a fully trained journalist who shunned a career in the profession due to my disillusionment with the tabloid press, instead hoping to become a professional author. I've written for The Liverpool Way for 7 years and am a regular on the forum using the name Agt Provocateur.

A passionate member of supporter group Kop Faithful, I've been a season ticket holder of 8 years and a regular match goer since 1995.

When not criticising diminishing refereeing standards in football, I can be found at Langtree Park, the home of St Helens Rugby League Club being highly critical of non existent standards of refereeing in Rugby League. I'm is also a massive Lancashire and England cricket fan.