Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard has described the retiring Jamie Carragher as a “great leader” and an “unbelievable” player.
After 17 years at Anfield, Carragher will end his career at the end of the current campaign, and Gerrard knows that replacing the defender is going to be a difficult task both on and off the pitch.
As club captain for a decade, Gerrard has had the support of Carragher as his vice-captain and the midfielder admitted he could not have had a better assistance in leading the team.
“He (Carragher) is a great leader,” the England skipper told Liverpool’s official website.
“To be a great leader you’ve got to be very vocal, you’ve got to be organised, know what to do on the pitch at certain times and you’ve also got to lead by example and give the right messages out to players at the right times.
“I never really looked at Jamie as a vice-captain or a No.2 – for me, he was a captain. We bounced off each other and tried to do the job as best we could between us for this team.”
The defender made his 737th and final appearance for Liverpool in the final-day victory over QPR last week, and Gerrard struggled to remember a bad performance in his career.
“I think it’s been unbelievable,” he continued. “Just looking at those figures, 737 appearances and I think the majority of them have been at a consistent level.
“There have been performances where he has put absolutely everything into it – blood, sweat, determination, desire…everything.
“Every word that is associated with a top footballer, Jamie has shown them in all of those appearances.
“He’s got something that not many other footballers have got, he is prepared to take his body to the limit and prepared to do whatever it takes to win a football match.”
Carragher made 38 appearances for Liverpool in 2012-13, fighting his way back into first-team contention under Brendan Rodgers after spending much of the first half of the season watching Martin Skrtel partner Daniel Agger in the centre of defence.
Gerrard believes that during his long career the 35-year-old has been one of the best defenders in Europe, and the desire to get himself back into the first team this season demonstrates that.
“I think from 2004 onwards, certainly for three or four years, he was one of the best defenders in Europe, for sure,” he added.
“You name all of the best ones – your (John) Terrys, (Rio) Ferdinands, (Alessandro) Nestas and (Fabio) Cannavaros – and Jamie sits comfortably in amongst all of those names. It was a pleasure to have him behind you as a player.”
This season was a transitional season for Liverpool but they ended the campaign well to earn a seventh-place finish.
However, Gerrard is not sure how he’s going to cope without his friend going forward.
“It has been a difficult few days since his retirement to realise he’s not going to be here much anymore,” he said.
“And myself more than anyone is going to have to suffer.”