Jamie Carragher to Retire: Recounting Liverpool Legend's Finest Moments

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2013

Jamie Carragher to Retire: Recounting Liverpool Legend's Finest Moments

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    One of the true greats of the history of Liverpool Football Club, Jamie Carragher is set to retire from professional football at the end of the current season, bringing to an end a career filled front-to-back with glorious chapters of success and struggle.

    His announcement may not come as a huge surprise, but he will certainly leave a gaping hole to fill behind him, having donned the Red shirt 723 times to date, more than anybody else in the modern era and second for all time to only Ian Callaghan.

    Liverpool's first team will have a replacement central defender to find, but the club as a whole will lose something far greater than a mere player. For a decade and a half, the man who wears the No. 23 shirt has defined what it means to be a professional, winning countless trophies, playing on the biggest stages of all and leading by example for a younger generation.

    Listing all of Carragher's achievements could take until the end of the season itself, but here's a recount of his most notable moments of all.

His First Professional Goal

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    Having surpassed the 700-appearance mark for the club and scoring only five goals, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there would have been an almighty wait for his first strike.

    That wasn't the case though—Carragher scored on his full debut for the club, heading in from a corner against Aston Villa in 1997-98 season.

    Playing in central midfield in the early days of his career, Carragher might have seemed at the time that he could go on to be a regular contributor to the scoresheet.

    An average of almost a goal every 150 games throughout his Reds career hasn't quite backed up that early promise though!

The Treble Season: League Cup Final Glory on Penalties

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    The 2000-01 season was a major one for Liverpool, and for Carragher himself.

    The Reds completed an epic season by qualifying for the Champions League via their league placing and winning a troika of trophies, starting with the League Cup.

    After a 1-1 draw in normal and extra time, the match went to a penalty shoot-out.

    Carragher himself stepped up to take one in sudden death, finding the top corner with a well-struck sixth-spot kick for the Reds—and their last one, as it turned out, after Sander Westerveld saved the next effort from Birmingham City.

    Carra had his hands on his first trophy for Liverpool.

The Treble Season: FA Cup and UEFA Cups Followed

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    Liverpool's mammoth season continued apace in the cups, as they played every single game possible during the course of the campaign.

    Two very different finals came at the end of the season. An FA Cup in which Liverpool triumphed after being roundly outplayed by Arsenal was followed swiftly by European glory in the shape of the UEFA Cup.

    One of the most remarkable finals of all time ended up 5-4 to the Reds against Alaves, with Carragher playing left-back in both matches.

    In total, Carragher played 58 times in all competitions during 2000-01, scoring no goals, of course, as he became an indispensable member of the squad in another new position.

Carragher vs. Reporter, Round 1

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    Never one afraid to speak his mind, Jamie Carragher has had the odd run-in with presenters and journalists down the years, including once calling up TalkSPORT live on the radio to berate the host for making a series of invalid points about the defender.

    Back in 2005 though, Carra appeared in a television interview (see video here) with Geoff Shreeves, who made the mistake of asking if the No. 23 wouldn't consider a move to a bigger club in a bid to win more trophies.

    Carragher, of course, was having none of it and refuted the idea completely.

    I'm not accepting that. You don't just give up. I've got four or five medals at the club, I've won a European trophy, how many players have got a European medal who are playing now?

    Little did he know, of course, that himself and the club were on the verge of their defining hour of the modern day...

The Champions League Victory of 2005

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    On May 25, 2005, Jamie Carragher and the rest of his teammates wrote themselves into Liverpool and football folklore with one of the most amazing comeback results of all time.

    Down 3-0 at halftime in the UEFA Champions League final to AC Milan, the Reds produced a stirring second-half comeback to draw level with three goals in six minutes before battling through extra time and emerging triumphant on penalties.

    Carra didn't take one this time, but he was a massive part of the team's effort in getting over the line, standing firm with Sami Hyypia alongside him to repel the likes of Kaka and Andriy Shevchenko time and time again.

    The images of Carragher suffering with cramp yet stretching to make another interception will live long in the memory of all Reds fans.

Carragher Lifts His First Trophy

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    With Champions League victory came the chance to be crowned European Super Cup winners for a second time, and with regular skipper Steven Gerrard unavailable, Carragher himself captained Liverpool to victory over CSKA Moscow.

    He lifted the trophy himself for the first time ever, the second time he had won that particular trophy after the Reds also won in 2001.

    2005 was a particularly glittering year for Carragher as he was also named as Liverpool's player of the year, an award he won again two years later.

Carragher vs. Reporter, Round 2

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    In 2006, Carragher won an FA Cup medal as the Reds beat West Ham in the final, where Carra scored an own goal. It was another six years before he had a chance to win another medal, as Liverpool contested the League Cup final in 2012 against Cardiff City.

    Liverpool emerged victorious on penalties—again—giving Carragher his third winners medal of that particular tournament.

    Following the game he was interviewed by Sky Sports' Andy Burton, and quickly gave the reporter a piece of his mind after it was intimated that Carra was on the way out.

    Cue a return to the studio to a hilariously laughing Robbie Fowler, who must have known all too well what Carragher's reaction to the question would have been.

Return to the Team: How Many More Games to Go?

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    After more than a year of being ousted from Liverpool's starting XI by the combination of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, Carragher has recently been recalled to the team by manager Brendan Rodgers—the sixth boss that Carra has served under in his time at the club.

    Carragher has now started all of the Reds' last three matches and has helped shore up the defence in the face of quality opposition, with Liverpool winning one and drawing two of the games.

    He's not quite going to reach the 750-appearance mark for the club, but if he remains in the team for a while longer and produces the kinds of performances that have marked the last couple of weeks—and many years beforehand—then Carragher will leave a legacy behind of staunch, committed defending that Liverpool Football Club will find very difficult to fill.