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When i hear the name Jamie Carragher, the first thing i think of is leader. Jamie, born an everton fan, has been at the heart of Liverpool football for most of this decade now, he always gives 100% and that is best anyone can do, its a shame a lot of other professional footballers feel they dont have to. As i said before, Jamie Carragher was born an everton fan, so how did he end up playing for Liverpool? Well when he was in his youth, he was asked to trial for Liverpool, and as they were they the best academy around, he agreed and off he went, even turning up in his beloved Everton top. From there he progressed up through the ranks and made it into Liverpool reserves and eventually the first team. Also by this stage he had followed Everton all over europe aswell as England. Once he made his debut for Liverpool he started off playing in all sorts of positions, including right back, left back, centre midfield before eventually finding his current position at centre half, which he has now made his own. Carraghers highlight has to be the 2005 Champions League Final against AC Milan, where at 3 nil down, Liverpool fought back and won on penalties with carragher at his best and keeping the team together in one of the greatest games of all time. Jamie has played for England before retiring at 28 to concentrate on the Liverpool team, a decision which has proved to be very shrewd and hopefully extend his shelf life as a liverpool player. So what has Carragher won while at Liverpool, well here are the honours so far: FA Cup: 2000-01, 2005-06 League Cup: 2000-01, 2002-03 FA Community Shield: 2001, 2006 FA Youth Cup: 1995-96 UEFA Champions League: 2004-05 UEFA Cup: 2000-01 UEFA Super Cup: 2001, 2005 Just missing that elusive Premier league medal to complete the full set. Overall, Jamie has been a great assett for liverpool, i could write forever about him, but you canread more inhis autobigraphy, such a great read if your a fan of his. His commitment can never be questioned, i just wish more players were like him.
For many years Jamie Carragher held the record for the most England U21 caps ever held, eventually that record was broken, but it sums Carragher up for me. A good player, someone who will put himself on the line, but the fact he was kept in the U21's for so long summed up much of his career, he was used incorrectly and for too long in the wrong places, he has recently given up on England saying he see's no point in going along simply to be a sub, fair enough, he was honest and he's gone back to the club he loves to dedicate himself fully. Starting out as an Everton fan, much like his mate Michael Owen, Carragher came through the youth ranks at Anfield being sub for ages and becoming well known for an infamous incident at the Liverpool Christmas party, he got into the team and played Right back, Left back anywhere he could, this continued for years until Rafa Benitez came to the club and trusted him, since then Carragher has played Centre Half and occasionally Right back, he has been good in the Premier League but won plaudits around the world for his Champions League displays putting his body on the line in many desperate situations to stop goals. Carragher has spent his whole career at Anfield which is to be applauded and as his recent autobiography proved he is an honest, straight talking football fan who made it. Good for him.
i follow liverpool as a second team and have done for a number of years. however at liverpool he has been overshadowed for a number of years, first off by michael owen and much more recently by steven gerrard. Carra holds the record for england under-21 appearences, this highlights the problem that jamie faces in furthering his international career. while at liverpool he his umero numero uno in a defence built around him whereas in the england team he has to face the two best central defenders possibly in the world - john terry and rio ferdinand (although i'd put carrager above ferdinand for his concentration levels). Most of the international appearences that carrager has made have been as substitutes due to this fact and also because of the versatility he has.
Although the majority of the credit for Liverpool’s successes (inconsistent this season) is normally given to their ‘star players’, such as Hyypia, Owen or Gerrard Liverpool fans have always been aware of the contribution of unsung heroes such as Jamie Carragher. Although an Everton supporter as a youngster, JC is a scouser through and through (born in Bootle) and product of Liverpool’s impressive youth system (playing in the 1996 FA Youth Cup winning team with Michael Owen). He began his career as a midfielder, but could also play as a defender, and it was this that gave him his chance in the first team. I still remember his dodgy start though – making one of his first senior appearances in a League Cup semi final away to Middlesbrough in which he was partly at fault for Liverpool conceding two goals within three minutes... Over the last four seasons or so though JC has become ‘Mr. Consistency’ and an almost ever-present figure in Liverpool’s back four. In the treble season (2000-01) JC occupied the troublesome left-back slot, following the sale of Dominic Matteo. Now, with Vignal and Riise competing this spot, he’s spent much of the present season covering for long term illness victims Markus Babbel and Vegard Heggem at right-back. When the situation demands it, he can also play as a central defender (although he seems below Hyypia, Henchoz and Babbel in the pecking order). He has also worn the captain’s armband for Liverpool, but only in the absence of Hyypia and Redknapp (and at the time Fowler). Wherever he’s played in the back four, Jamie always shows 100% commitment. He’s not the most talented of players, and won’t amaze viewers with 50-yard passes or mazy dribbles, but he gets the job done in a simple but effective way. I wasn’t so sure he’d be suited to the full-back role, and admittedly he does seem more like a central defender played on the flank (which arguable limits Liverpool’s width in attack). That said though, he’s rarely over troubled by wingers and I’ve seen him deal very efficiently with some of the best in the Premiership. At first he didn’t seem suited to playing on the left, but has worked hard and developed his left foot. Just before Sven Goran Eriksson became England manager, his assistant Tord Grip apparently recommended JC as a potential England left-back after seeing him completely subdue Beckham. Jamie holds the record number of caps for England at under-21 level (where he was captain). He made his first senior international appearance under Kevin Keegan in a 1-1 draw with Hungary (April 1999, as a second half substitute for Rio Ferdinand). Unfortunately for Jamie’s international chances, Ashley Cole has emerged to solve England’s left-back problem. Despite this, JC has gone on to win a number of caps (mostly as substitute) – ironically enough mainly as a defensive midfielder (the position he couldn’t play at Liverpool). His perception as ‘jack of all trades but master of none’ may mean he misses a place in England’s squad for the World Cup, but I certainly hope he makes it on the strength of his commitment and versatility. If there’s any doubt of Jamie’s ability to perform at the top level or under pressure, hopefully it was dispelled last season – not only was he a key figure in Liverpool’s triple cup triumph, but it was Jamie who scored the ‘sudden death’ 6th penalty that won the Worthington Cup in Cardiff. Scoring has been an irregular feature of JC’s game – after signing his professional contract in 1996, he celebrated his first senior start (18/01/97) by scoring against Aston Villa. He had to wait two years for his next goal, which was in a 7-1 win over Southampton at Anfield on 16th January 1999. His first sending off came in a 1-0 defeat at Charlton in 1999 (but was completely unjustified in my view). As a gritty, competitive defender, JC admittedly picks up a few bookings, but not as many as you might expect, and he certainly isn’t a dirty player. (Despite earning a red card for throwing a coin back into the crowd in the FA Cup tie against Arsenal yesterday!) This season, Liverpool have been struggling for consistency, and Jamie is one of those players (along with Murphy and Gerrard) who has been singled out for criticism. I think this is unfair as he always gives his best, and at just 23 is still an improving player (not yet the finished article). He’s a near constant for Liverpool, having marked his 200th senior appearance at the in January 2002 (I think in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal 13/01/02). He’s also become a regular in Sven Goran Eriksson’s England squad, and as I said I hope he’ll be featuring in the World Cup this summer. DOB: 28/01/1978 Squad number: 23 Height: 6’1” Weight: 12st10 Games played (as of 28/01/02 – his 24th birthday) Liverpool: 205 (2 goals) England: 7 (0 goals) (Thanks to www.liverpoolfc.tv for providing some of the information here)
Michael Owen is the man who grabs the headlines and quite rightly so. He has been knocking in goal after goal for club and country with a consistency that is the envy of every manager in the premiership, Europe and the world. It is usually a centre forward or swashbuckling midfielder who steals the limelight. Defenders tend to make the news for the wrong reasons as you will realise if you try to compile a "currently helping the police with their enquiries" XI. Liverpool's current success is not built on the lines of Brazil circa 1970 when outscoring the opposition was the way forward. Rather it is based on a solid back 5, a midfield that works ridiculously hard for 95 minutes around a nucleus of Gerrard and Hamann and winning it on the goals of Owen et al (not really sure if there is much of an et al either!). Now sometimes that tactic backfires horribly - in the last 9 league games we have only won two and there have been a lot of 1 - 1 draws when the other team has come from behind. I hate this style of play and long for the days of running at the opposition and scoring 5, the days when John Barnes took home the Barclay's bubbly every week. What is clear however is that to win, you need to have a solid back four. Over the last two seasons Liverpool have had a back four that has picked itself. Last year it read Babbel, Hyppia, Henchoz and Carragher. This year Babbel has been replaced firstly by Vignal, then Riise and latterly Wright. I believe that Carragher is the unsung star of this lot which is fair enough as he is in exalted company; Hyppia is the best centre back in the premiership (and didn't cost a fortune); Henchoz has matured into a worthy partner; Babbel's name proceeded him and Riise has captured the limelight for his exploits at the other end, most memorably THAT free kick. Carragher played out of position last season on the left. Despite this, he looked solid and n ever looked out of his depth. This season he has mainly played on the right due to Babbel's injury but has also appeared on the left and in the middle. Liverpool have looked as solid as any other premiership defence throughout with the exception of the Chelsea debacle. Carragher gets on with things without too many frills and spills. Although useful going forward and versatile enough to play in midfield, the Liverpool style has not given much scope for attacking. His distribution is excellent however and this makes him a potent force when combined with Owen's speed onto the well delivered long ball. He is a reliable player - you won't see him making mistakes a la Blanc, Brown etc - he quietly and unassumingly gets the job done. Jamie has already had the Captain's armband albeit as the result of a substitution. I hope that he won't captain the side for a while as I would like to see Sami Hyppia take that job for the next 10 years or so but he is thoroughly capable of stepping into the breech. JC is young, versatile and responsible. He has been in Svenni's squads up until now and will be for the world cup too as a squad player - or more accurately as 3 squad players - his versatility means that Sven can pick him to fill any of the positions across the back and will therefore allow him to select more attacking players - can't be a bad thing!