Players like Jamie Carragher
are fast becoming a throwback. Liverpool's defensive rock and vice-captain has only ever played for one club, and chances are that's how it will stay. In an era where players chase lucrative wage hikes and transfers, our Icons Legend of the Week #6 stands out for his unwavering loyalty.
Like fellow Kop legends Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush, Carragher was a boyhood Everton fan. After signing up with Liverpool
, however, it soon became clear where his true allegiances lay. Liverpool is his club, and he is their legend.
The boy from Bootle signed a professional contract with Liverpool in October 1996, and three months later former manager Roy Evans handed him his debut in a League Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough. Now 33 years old and in his 16th season on Merseyside, Carragher boasts a total of 669 appearances for the club, making him their second longest-serving player after Ian Callaghan.
Fittingly, Carragher's first Liverpool goal came in front of the Kop. Since that strike - a header in a 3-0 over Aston Villa in early 1997 - he has added only four more. But it's at the other end of the pitch where Carragher excels. A brave and astute defender, Carragher first cemented his place in the first team as full-back during the 1997/98 season. It wasn't until the arrival of Rafael Benitez in 2004 that Carragher was moved to centre-back, where he's been a commanding presence and a driving force ever since.
Carragher celebrated his first senior trophies at the end of the 2000/2001 season. Playing at left-back, Carragher was a regular starter in the side that won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup.
It was in the 2004/2005 season, however, that he truly blossomed. Carragher made 56 appearances alongside Sami Hyypia at the heart of Liverpool's defence during that campaign. The formidable partnership he formed with the Finn was integral to Liverpool's successful Champions League campaign, which culminated in that famous comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul. In extra-time, suffering from cramp and with the scores level at 3-3, Carragher pulled off some typically heroic last ditch blocking to deny the Italians. His bravery and never-say-die attitude pulled Liverpool through to win the penalty shoot-out. He was voted the Reds' player of the year.
Carragher's international career never reached the same heights. He featured 27 times for the under-21 side before making his debut with the seniors on 28 April 1999 against Hungary. Despite an impressive total of 38 caps, Carragher never managed to consistently hold down a starting place, and in 2007 he retired from international football citing a lack of playing time. In 2010 Carragher was persuaded to come out of retirement by Fabio Capello for the World Cup in South Africa, but England
endured a disastrous campaign, and Carragher subsequently reaffirmed his desire to devote his focus to Liverpool.
To the Anfield faithful, Carragher's international career is of little concern. With Kenny Dalglish back at the helm, there is a feeling on Merseyside that this could be Liverpool's year. The legend in the dugout will be looking to his counterpart on the pitch to keep things steady at the back. If there's one man who can make that happen, it's Jamie Carragher.