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Jamie Carragher returns to Liverpool training as Brendan Rodgers says he almost quit in the summer

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

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

15:22 GMT, 8 February 2013

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UPDATED:

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

Job to do: Jamie Carragher returned to training today a day after announcing his retirement

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
stay on.'

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

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

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.'

Jamie Carragher fears FA Cup final against Chelsea could be his last

Final countdown… Carragher fears Wembley showdown against Chelsea could be his last

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UPDATED:

16:34 GMT, 3 May 2012

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher intends to enjoy Saturday's FA Cup final as he admits he does not know how many big matches are left in his career.

The 34-year-old, who has made 696 appearances for the Reds, has lost his regular place in the starting line-up this season due to the form of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger.

Despite initially finding it hard to accept, he has come to terms with the fact opportunities are becoming increasingly limited late in his career.

Fear: Jamie Carragher does not know if he will play in another cup final

Fear: Jamie Carragher does not know if he will play in another cup final

Which is why he is determined to enjoy another visit to Wembley, where they face Chelsea, whatever his involvement.

'Realistically there is not much time left for me. You always have that fear it might be your last [final],' said the centre-back.

'When you get to the stage of my career you always think 'Will I ever get a chance to play in this kind of game again'

'From a personal point of view, because of my age and situation, it probably does feel a little more important or special because I may not see many of these days again.

'It makes it even more important even though we've played plenty of these games before.'

Carragher was left out of the starting line-up for February's Carling Cup victory, although he played the last four minutes plus extra time of the win over Cardiff after replacing Agger.

Rivals: Carragher featured against Manchester United on the way to the final

Rivals: Carragher featured against Manchester United on the way to the final

But, as you would expect from a Bootle-born player who came through the youth system, he knows the club must come first.

'I have got to the stage where if I
play – great – if I don't then I understand it now because I've missed
more games this season than I have before,' he added.

'I have got my head around it a bit more. I was on the bench in the last cup final and got on in the end.

'I don't think I have to do anything differently to the rest of my time with Liverpool – just train the way I train.

'If you play, great; if you don't, support the lads and respect the manager's decision.

'We all win together. It doesn't matter who plays, who's on the bench, who comes on.

Bad season: Liverpool beat Norwich but have endured a poor year

Bad season: Liverpool beat Norwich but have endured a poor year

'If we win, it'll say Liverpool won. We're all part of the club and that is what we want.

'The main thing is for us is winning – if you are on the bench you still get a medal.'

Famously in the Carling Cup, Carragher walked up the steps to the trophy presentation with his son James.

But, disappointingly for the youngsters, if they beat Chelsea on Saturday there will be no repeat performance.

'You do it once and it is great but I think it is Stevie's turn. It would be great for one of his kids,' said Carragher.

Jamie Carragher still focused on playing

Carragher still focused on playing despite losing starting role

Veteran Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher is refusing to think about life after playing despite having found first-team opportunities limited in recent months.

The centre-back was given a rare Barclays Premier League start – his first since October 22 – in Sunday's goalless draw at home to Stoke.

He lost his place in the side because of injury, and prior to Saturday he had not started in 11 league matches.

Rare start: Carragher played against Stoke on Saturday

Rare start: Carragher played against Stoke on Saturday

Carragher, who has just over a year remaining on his contract, is 34 in a fortnight's time and manager Kenny Dalglish has already suggested there is an ambassadorial role – similar to the one offered to captain Steven Gerrard when he signed a contract extension on Thursday – waiting for him.

But even though Carragher has had to watch Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger excel as Liverpool's first-choice central defensive partnership, he has not spent the time on the bench considering his future.

'If the manager has mentioned it (an ambassador role) I'm sure we will discuss it in the future,' said the Bootle-born defender, who has been at the club since he was at primary school, making his debut more than 15 years ago.

Carrying on: The veteran has no plans to retire

Carrying on: The veteran has no plans to retire

'But that's not something I want to talk about at the minute.

'I still want to concentrate on playing. I want to get as much out of my playing career as I possibly can.

'We will speak about something in the future.

'I'm the same as Steven – we love playing for the club and we just want to help in any way that we can.'