Still got a job to do! Carragher going strong in training as Rodgers reveals he had to persuade legend to give him one more year
15:22 GMT, 8 February 2013
15:33 GMT, 8 February 2013
Jamie Carragher returned to training today with the praise of some of world football's most famous faces still ringing in his ears.
And it was also revealed that Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers had to persuade the club legend to extend his career into this season.
The Liverpool defender announced yesterday that this campaign would be his last, bringing the curtain down on a 16-year professional career at Anfield.
Job to do: Jamie Carragher returned to training today a day after announcing his retirement
Bootle-born Carragher, at the club since
the age of nine, has so far made 723 appearances, putting him behind
only Ian Callaghan on the Reds' all-time list.
Rodgers said: 'He is irreplaceable, he's been a giant
for me since I came to the club.
'Jamie had thoughts about this last summer when I
arrived but we had some good conversations and I persuaded him to
Team-mates and managers, as well as wider faces from the game, were quick to hail the one-club man as well.
Former Anfield bosses, including Kenny Dalglish and Rafael Benitez, added their voice today.
Dalglish said: 'Jamie's decision was a surprise to me because he has just played as well as anyone against Arsenal and Manchester City.
'I thought he had a bit left in him yet but he knows himself better than anybody and if he thinks it is time to hang up the old boots that is totally his prerogative.
'It is always a difficult decision for a footballer – as hard a decision as you can face as a professional.
'It is more difficult because playing is the best part of your career – especially at the level he has played at and is playing at.
'We just have to be grateful that Liverpool has had a servant like Jamie. As a local boy it is always special and Jamie is a local boy who has never once got carried away with it all and who can relate to the supporters. That's really important.'
Speaking at his Chelsea press conference, Rafael Benitez also paid tribute.
'To play more than 700 games for any team in football is a really great achievement; more than 700 games for just one club is even better.
'Nobody can argue about the character, determination and professionalism of Carra. He was a key player for us. In 2007, John Terry, a very good centre-back, said Carra was one of the best centre-backs at that time.'
Here to help: Manager Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for the Liverpool defender
In with the new: Philippe Coutinho provided some fresher legs ahead of Carragher at Melwood
Sportsmail revealed this morning that Sky Sports looked set to win the TV battle for the services of Carragher.
All the major networks are keen to employ the Liverpool defender as a pundit but Sky are expected to pull out the stops to land him, with station boss Barney Francis desperate to see off any bid from new rivals BT Sport.
So while one man heads into the final months of his Anfield career, another is at the very start.
Philippe Coutinho was a January capture from Inter Milan, and could be in line to feature this weekend after overcoming an injury.
Rodgers added: 'He had been injured but trained this morning. He is a young player who is very exciting and I have high hopes for. He trained with group and we will observe him.
'He is a top young player and bringing him into the group adds great competition. It is important to have players trying to get in the side. We wanted to build a competitive squad.'