Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher is one of a special breed of footballer that is fast becoming extinct.
When ‘one club man’ Carragher eventually hangs up his boots this summer as it was announced last week, he can look back on over 700 appearances for Liverpool, leaving him second on the all time Anfield appearance list behind Ian Callaghan. Unfortunately, once the current breed of one club men such Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes follow suit in retiring, it is unlikely we will ever such loyalty to one club again.
Carragher, who ironically grew up an Everton fan, made his debut for Liverpool in a League Cup match against Middlesbrough in 1996. To put into perspective the longevity of Carragher’s career, he made his debut as a substitute, replacing former England defender Rob Jones. Throughout his early career, Carragher was the ultimate ‘utility player’. ‘Carra’ was equally comfortable in either full back position, as a defensive midfielder or at centre half, a position he would go on to make his own for many of his 700 plus appearances.
Once retired, Carragher will surely be remembered as an honest hard working professional with an excellent understanding of the game. His positioning and ability to organise his back line often compensated for his lack of pace and he was the master of the ‘last ditch tackle’. It is widely publicised that Carragher is a huge ‘student of the game’ and it would be of no surprise to anyone if life after playing were to take him into management.
It is a great shame that these ‘one club men’ are likely to die out once the current crop hang up their boots. The money that is now in the game has meant that more often than not, loyalty to a club that nurtures you from a young age and gives you your chance in football goes out of the window with the rewards and riches that are currently on offer.
Footballers are often labelled greedy for jumping ship from a club that offers a young player the platform to showcase their talents but to a point nobody can blame them. Footballers have a relatively short shelf life and its difficult to blame them for wanting to make as much money as they can, while they can.
Maybe players such as Carragher, Giggs, Scholes and Gerrard were more fortunate than others in that they were given their chance at massive clubs, clubs that were able to financially reward to a greater level than many others. It would have been interesting to see if these players would have shown the same loyalty had they come through the ranks at smaller clubs.
Either way, players that spend their entire career at one club should be commended. The old romantic in many football fans would love to see more of these players come through as time goes on. Unfortunately, with the financial rewards on offer in the game these days, it simply will not happen.