Editorial: Anfield prepares for the final Carragher send off

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Tomorrow Jamie Carragher graces the Anfield turf for the final time as an LFC player and the warm reception he receives will be more than well deserved.

Brendan Rodgers' comments yesterday highlight the level of professionalism he has displayed throughout his career:

"He's in the final week of his career, going into the game against QPR at 35 years of age.

"He knows he's retiring, but after training yesterday he was still in the gymnasium, preparing himself with the same commitment that he has shown his entire career.

"He could have had a lazy day. He could have had a bit of lunch and then shot home, but he was in the gym preparing his body and doing his core work, his flexibility and preparing himself to the maximum to be his best.

"And that says it all about him; that at the end of his career, he is still preparing as if it was his first game.

From the day he came on to replace Rob Jones against Middlesbrough in the League Cup Semi Final way back in January 1997 he has displayed all the leadership qualities that have come to symbolise his Anfield career.

He broke through in to the Liverpool side with more certainty in the 1997-98 campaign, Roy Evans' final season in sole charge of Liverpool, where he displayed maturity beyond his years in assured displays - be it in midfield, centre-half or even as a full back - as the reds continued with their often-maligned 5-3-2/3-5-2 formation.

Gerard Houllier utilised Jamie Carragher's ability to trade positions effectively.  A season at right back, a season at left back - no matter what the team - Carragher would always be a name on the teamsheet.

It was the arrival of Rafa Benitez however that ensured that Carragher's new role was to be that of centre-back.  Liverpool's defence was a priority for the incoming Spanish manager - the reds guilty all too often of attractive attacking football being hurt by a leakiness amongst the backline.

The partnership of Carragher and Hyypia back then is now looked upon as a classic Liverpool defensive partnership.  The defence amazingly held their nerve during several tricky European games that season as they eventually went on to notch up a European Cup at the end of the season.  Carragher captained the side in the ensuing European Super Cup victory later that year.

Long term vice-captain to Steven Gerrard, Carragher often appeared to be the real voice of the team.  Marshalling defenders, berating keepers or midfielders who were under performing. Many Liverpool players have been on the end of their very own Jamie Carragher 'hairdryer' moment.

And through to the twilight of his career - this season - and Jamie initially struggled to get picked for the side - Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel being preferred by Brendan Rodgers.  But as the season ends it is Carragher who has forced his way back in to the side even against his much younger teammates and has ended the season strongest.

Jamie may have not been the most gifted Liverpool player ever.  He may not have had the set-piece goals in him like a Hyypia.  He may have been liable for the (more than) occasional own goal.  He may not make the all time eleven in many people's best ever Liverpool sides.

But when Jamie played for Liverpool you always felt like he was 'one of us'.  He always turned up and put in a shift.  He embodied the passion and spirit of the supporters who couldn't fathom a player 'not fancying it'.

He always gave it 100% and you knew that he most probably did in training too throughout the week.

In a world where gifted footballers are almost required to have a darker side.  A world in which footballers hand in transfer requests to get a few bob more in a pay rise or pledge their allegiance to a club before departing the next window - it is refreshing to see someone like Jamie Carragher.

He makes us feel that perhaps some footballers do share the passion we have as supporters.

Surely as a football supporter no matter who your club is - the wins would be all the more sweeter, and the defeats a little bit easier to swallow if we actually did have a Team of Carraghers.

Best of luck in your retirement Jamie.

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