#7 Jamie Carragher
Name: Jamie Carragher
Years at Liverpool: 1996 to present
Signed from: Apprentice (October 1996)
Honours: European Cup (2005), FA Cup (2001, 2006), UEFA Cup (2001), League Cup (2001, 2003), Charity Shield (2001, 2006), Super Cup (2001, 2005), FA Youth Cup (1996)
His boyhood footballing allegiances may have lay on the wrong side of Stanley Park but ask any Liverpool fan who their representative is out on the pitch and you can bet the majority would plump for Jamie Carragher.
A blue-blooded Evertonian he may have been when growing up in the Marsh Lane area of Bootle but cut Carragher in half today and he'll bleed nothing but Liverpool red.
A no-nonsense defender, who plays with the passion and devotion of the most fanatical Liverpudlian, Carra has been a key figure in all of the Reds' recent triumphs and his value to the team is priceless.
A local working class hero, with the broadest of Scouse accents, he rose through the Anfield youth ranks and has remained true to his roots. As modest and down-to-earth as they come, in the modern game his attitude is both refreshing and endearing.
Widely regarded as one of the finest out-and-out defenders in Europe at the moment, comparisons with such defensive greats as Franco Baresi should not be taken lightly, for Jamie Carragher is fully deserving of such plaudits.
Whether it be at left-back, right-back or centre-back, he defends the Liverpool goal as if his life depends on it – as perhaps best proved from half-time onwards in the unforgettable 2005 Champions League Final against AC Milan in Istanbul.
While his versatility was to work in his favour to a certain extent during those early years, it prevented him from showing his true class in one position and he was not instantly adopted as a firm favourite of the fans, like he is today.
A succession of big money buys were brought in and his place seemed in constant danger but each and every time he resiliently knuckled down, refused to kick up a fuss and eventually saw off the challenge of all newcomers.
Seemingly growing in stature with every game, Carra slowly won over the doubters and blossomed into a highly consistent performer who was to become one of the first names on the Liverpool team-sheet.
Upon taking over the Anfield managership in 2004, Benitez was so impressed by his dedication and work-rate that he had no hesitation in appointing him vice-captain to Steven Gerrard, and as stand-in skipper he proudly held aloft the European Super Cup the following year.
Carragher will be first to admit that he's not the most technically gifted player to have ever pulled on the red shirt but a combination of hard work and a fully committed approach to his profession have helped him attain his goals.
An impeccable reader of the game and fine man-marker, he's strong in the tackle, dominant in the air and exerts a positive influence on all those around him. He would run through a brick wall in aid of the Liverpool cause and has displayed a willingness to play through the pain barrier.
After breaking his leg away to Blackburn in September 2003 he refused to accept that he couldn't continue and eventually left the field with a genuine belief that he'd let his team-mates down, while during extra-time of the Champions League Final he bravely soldiered on despite being crippled with excruciating cramp.
One of a select band of players to have played over 400 games for the club, his loyalty to the Reds is commendable. When once asked in an interview if he'd ever contemplate a move to somewhere bigger, his quick-as-a-flash reply was 'there is nowhere bigger than Liverpool'.
It's this type of attitude that has helped earn him 'living legend' status among those on the Kop, who dream about a 'team of Carragher's'. There have been many better players in Liverpool history but few have had a greater affinity with the crowd.
'23 Carra Gold' is the wording on one of the many banners to have been created by supporters in his honour and there can be no denying that Jamie Carragher is a present day jewel in Liverpool's crown.
Claim to fame: Giving Jerzy Dudek an inspirational pep-talk before the penalty shoot-out drama in Istanbul
Did you know? He is the longest serving player currently on Liverpool's books and will complete ten years unbroken as a professional at Anfield in October 2006
Chris Bascombe on Jamie Carragher: "I've probably been accused of being chairman of the Jamie Carragher fan club since he broke into the team and it's a funny one with him because when he first got into the side I don't think anybody would have believed he would become the player he has. But every season Carra has been in the team he's raised his game another 10 per cent and I think Liverpool fans have now woken up to how great he is."
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
#7 Jamie Carragher