Interview with a Legend, Jamie Carragher

Jamie, you were one of the best players in your position in Europe… Did you ever think to play in another country?

No, but, I think at the end of your career, maybe it would be nice to say, I had this experience in Spain, Italy, or Germany. I think Steven Gerrard said that before the Real Madrid game, that he could have went to Real Madrid 2 o 3 times, and in the end of his career he may think, I wish, because it is another experience, but when you are a local player, and you player for your team, you never think that there is anything bigger or better.

You have soo many friends and family aroud you, who are Liverpool supporters that you coudn’t even think to move, but maybe if I wasn’t with my local team, maybe then, if you have the opportunity you may think, it’s a good experience, but the Liverpool fans would kill you!

You’ve played under a few differences managers, with different nationalities , and different styles of football, what influence did it have on you?

Obviously I never played in another country but foreign managers bring that to Liverpool, and I am pleased now that I’ve had different managers, from different countries, and different cultures, because you learn different things off different people. The first manager was Roy Evans, he was from the boot room, like Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Ronnie Moran, they were the same ideas for a long time. Then Gerrard Houllier came in, a French manager, and France had just won the World Cup, and he was part of that, he worked with a lot of young players, who were involved in winning the World Cup, like Thierry Henry, Trezeguet, so that was fantastic learning for me. Then, obviously Rafa came in, a huge figure in Spain because he had won two La Ligas and a UEFA cup with Valencia, and we played Valencia a lot, and they were a very good team so, he was very good for me, he played me in my best position, a very organised coach, very good.

And who was your favourite?

I woud say, Houllier and Benitez together because, I had both for 6 years, so that was 12 years of my career with those two managers, and they are the managers that I won my trophies with, and I played my best football so I never pick!

Do you think that language is a barrier in football sometimes?

I think people say football is a common language, that everyone knows, but I think on the pitch, you need to speak, you need to talk, and I think if someone comes to England and they can’t speak any of the language, it is a problem.

You need to mix with the players, speak with the manager, speak to the media, you need to have these relationships, but the most important thing is the football, can he play football? But after that you need to have the language, and this is a problem for some players.

Which team in “La Liga” would have liked to play for?

As a child, I was an Everton fan, and Everton sold Gary Lineker to Barcelona in 1986, after the World Cup, so I was always a Barcelona fan, from the Spanish teams. Then I remember the Cruyff team, I used to watch some of the goals, and obviously Pep Guardiola team, so I’ve been more Barcelona than Real Madrid, I don’t know if I was maybe good enough to play for any, but Barcelona was my favourite Spanish team.

And with which defenders?

I love Puyol, I love Hierro as well from Real Madrid, a fantastic player. I played some games with him, a few months ago, so I said one from Madrid and one from Barcelona!

Who is your favourite player in la Liga currently?

I think the best player in la Liga now is Ronaldo, before maybe it was Messi, but I think Ronaldo now has moved ahead of Messi. But my favourite player in Spain is Xavi Hernandez, maybe now he just finishing off and not playing all the games but Xavi Henandez has been the best player in Spain.

Have you ever meet him?

Yes, I did an interview with him last year in the Spanish national team, I spoke to him for the paper. I used to tell the Spanish players, Xabi Alonso, Pepe Reina, Arbeloa, tell Xavi I think he is the best, so he knows I like him!

Talking about your present, are you enjoying working in media?

Yes I’ve enjoyed it. I think when you finish playing you have to decide what you do, most players do coaching, managing or do the media, and I never really had any offers for coaching or managing. So I got an offer from Sky TV to do Premier League games, Champions League games, so perfect.

Would you like to form part of the coaching staff at Liverpool in your future?

I think if was offered a job in Liverpool a good coaching role would be difficult to turn down, I suppose because is your club, you always want them to do well, but like I said, I am happy now, I enjoy what I am doing but if that happens you have a decision to make but, as I said anyonelse but Liverpool you wouldn’t really change your job, but when is your own club its a big pull.

So no for everton then? No, no chance.

And what about the national team?

Someone who I work in Sky, Gary Neville, he works for the England National Team and some people are doing that now, when your not working in the media its International break so you can work with a National Team, so that could be an option.

Who was your role model in football when you first started?

I was an Everton fan as I said, Gary Lineker went to Barcelona but, lots of Everton players then, maybe Spanish people don’t remember them too much but, Graeme Sharp, Peter Reid they were legends for Everton and they were my héroes growing up.

Anfield has a fantastic atmosphere and great supporters, but , have you ever visited any other stadiums that really impressed you?

The two best stadiums are the Bernabeu or Nou Camp and maybe the San Siro as well. But in terms of atmosphere its when you go to Turkey to Besiktas or Galatasaray and these kind of places -the atmosphere is there two hours before the game, all the supporters are in the ground, so definitely in Turkey is the best atmosphere.

I was talking with my friend the other day, a Manchester United fan, and he said “If Jamie Carragher was playing last season, you would have won the league” What do you think about this?

You never know, we all like to think that we could have helped, whether it was me or another player that was injured or he wasn’t playing. We all think like that, but also a player can make the team worse, make the team better, you don’t know, who knows?.

But we shoud’t forget Liverpool had a brilliant season last year. I think from seventh to second, we should really won the league, with two or three games to go, it was fantastic the performance by the players and by the manager, a great job. This season hasn’t started so well but still time to catch up. I don’t think we will catch Chelsea or Manchester City but is important to get in the top four.

If Liverpool had of won the league last season, would you have been slightly disappointed you’d retired the season before?

Yes I think I would of probably regretted it did, thinking I maybe retired too early. The one trophy that myself and Steven Gerrard never won was the league, and that is all that we always wanted to have, talking about it all the time, and if the season I finished they all won the league so, of course I would it regret that I retired then. But you have to make your decision at the time, you have to stick by it, but of course I would feel very envious.

You and also Pepe Reina were well known for organising the game from the back. Do you think Liverpool are missing someone like that in the team right now?

Yes you could say that, I think so, but not just Liverpool, I just think footballers in general now, there’s not many organisers that talk on the football pitch, that is a problem for every team, I think coaches and managers always say, you need someone on the pitch, to talk and organise. I think that in 10, 15, 20 years ago, every team had players like this but I think now its becoming less and less, but is not just a problem for Liverpool is a problem for everybody.

Are you looking forward to seeing Luis Suarez playing en “el Clasico”?

Very excited yes, you think of Neymar, Messi, Suarez, three players, three of best players in the world. Barcelona, Luis Enrique, they’ve made a brilliant start, I don’t think they’ve conceded a goal, so they are doing very well people say, they have great attackers but their defence is not very good but, lots of clean sheets. Neymar now looks fantastic, Messi is coming back slowly after the World Cup. But it will be interesting to see where Suarez plays, what position, how they fit him.

There were rumours in the summer about Luis going to Barcelona or Real Madrid, do you think that he fits better in Barca?

I thought he may fit better in Real Madrid, because he could play centre forward, maybe instead of Benzema. At Barcelona maybe he will play on the right wing, where Pedro plays, he can play there ,but I think his best position is centre forward, and that’s where Messi plays there so he can’t play there!

How would you describe Luis Suarez the player and the person?

Very much a family man, always with his wife, his children, always laughing and joking on the training pitch, or enjoying the company of the other players.

On the pitch, fantastic, in training never lazy, always working, always practicing, always wants to win all the time in training and in the game is the same. One of the best players in the world, probably you have Ronaldo, Messi and then Suarez.

Do you think that his anger to win is what made him have a couple of mistakes in the past?

The things that he gets involved in like the bite incident and other things, he just wants to win so much that it boils over, and it is wrong, because you have to know there is a line that you can’t cross and he crosses it because there is just a anger, a frustration in games that he has not scored or his team is not wining and it just boils over, but he is not like that as a normal man with his wife and children, he is a normal man, but he just wants to win so much.

Do you think Liverpool will ever have a player like him again?

I hope so, people said that after Daglish, after Rush after Robbie Fowler, after Michael Owen, after Torres so ok, Luis Suarez maybe difficult, maybe a long time, one of the best players in the world. But, Liverpool have always replaced those strikers and you have to think that Liverpool will replace Suarez again.

What do you think about the Real Madrid game?

Madrid played fantastic, they are the world’s best team with the world’s best players.

What do you think about the issue regarding Mario Balloteli swapping shirts with pepe at half time?

Mario wasn’t thinking about swapping shirts, but pepe was. I think Mario should have waited til the end of the game or he should have swapped in the tunnel.

Mario hasn’t had a very good start in his Liverpool career, do you think the situation is going to change?

I hope so because he needs obviously start to scoring goals, he is not a replacement for Suarez really, but he plays in the same position. He is not as good a Suarez, we know that but has to do a little bit more. Liverpool are missing Sturridge badly, because he gets the goals and if he is not there that’s what you want from Balloteli really. But its still early in his Liverpool career, still plenty of time to go but he has to improve.

What do you think about the new Spanish players Manquillo and Moreno?

I really like Moreno, I think out of all the new signing, he is the one who looks the best, at the moment he is rotating with Enrique and against Totteham he scored that goal, which was fantastic so he looks good.

Manquillo I like him too he doesn’t do anything fantastic, but he just does the same job all the time, we have a few players who can play at right back as well at Liverpool so he has competition. But I think he is two years on loan, from Atletico de Madrid so, Simeone is a fantastic defensive coach, so he knows how to defend – overall I like the new Spanish players, I think they’ve been two of the best signing.

I read in your column the other day when you said “ a foreign player takes a year to adapt to the premier league” How long do you think that an English player would need to adapt to “La Liga”?

I don’t think it should take a year, I think maybe a few months, you are living in somewhere new, language, culture, different team-mates, manager so maybe a few moths, but not one year. I think if someone is not playing well after a year, its worrying. So I think maybe two or three months, maybe when it gets to Christmas or the Winter break, but after that you have to show everyone what you’ve got.

And why you think it is unusual to have English players in la Liga?

Because there is so much money in England, in the past there was players that went abroad, to Italy or Spain, I mentioned Gary Lineker before but now, the English players have everything here the Premier League is fantastic and its big money. But I think it would be very good for the playersto move and experience different things. I think that Bale has been fantastic for Real Madrid, it will help him as a player now he’s won the Champions League. So I think it could be good for our players but as I said, we’ve got a fantastic league here.

However I read a declaration from last year in which you said, that “academies should be for our kids, if you buy a new player, should be for the first team”

Don’t you think if they come before, and enjoy at an early aged, they won’t need this year to adapt that you mention before?

Yes maybe. A lot of foreign players that come, don’t make it anyway and I think its difficult, obviously they are good players but when you move away you don’t have your family there, your 15 or 16, ina foreign country on your own, language barrier, your still a child. I don’t think it helps them. As players, very few at Liverpool have done well. I just think if you buy them at 18, they’re older, more mature and obviously your buying a better player who’s in the first team so hes confident and a better option.

Which was the match of your career?

Istanbul, Champions League Final, If we won that game 1-0 it would still be our best macth because its a Champions League final,the biggest game you can play in. But to win it in the way that we did, a fantastic game, everyone remembers the game, not just Liverpool fans, so I was very lucky to be involved.

Was your family over too?

Yes, everyone was there, I think I had like 30 or 40 tickets? It was a fantastic game and something that we still talk about.

Do you keep in contact with any of the players of that team back in 2005?

Yes, I speak to Didi Hamman a lot, Gerrard, Sami Hyppia now manager of Brighton. I don’t see the players every day but the odd text message or different things, you see them at games an things like that but we will always be friends because we did something fantastic together.

I know you are retired and I am not going to ask you to play, but if you could choose, one more game to play with Liverpool, against which worldwide club will you choose?

I would have loved to play at Anfield on Wednesday. Yes if I could choose I would like top lay one more game at anfield against Real Madrid or Barcelona in Champions league night definitely.

And if you could choose to manage a club, which one would it be?


Would you like your son, James to become a professional footballer?

Of course yes, everyone in Liverpool loves football and would like their son to play for Everton of Liverpool.

And what position will you like him to play?

Centre forward

How is the Jamie Carragher foundation going this year so far?

Its going well, I am doing a lot of signing, I give shirts and things away and we get some money for the charity. Every two or three months we give some money out, maybe 10 or 12 thousands pounds and give it to different local charities and that’s ongoing all the time.

Are you superstitious?

Not really, but I always sat on the same place at anfield, I always have the same routine. I wasn’t really like I did this because we won, I don’t do that because we lost, I was’t really superstitious just had a routine.


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