Steven Gerrard will play his 600th game for Liverpool against Newcastle United on the weekend, but Jamie Carragher's reflection on the milestone speaks as much to his own late career growth as anything else.
As Steven Gerrard prepares to play in his 600th match for Liverpool on Sunday, the expected plaudits have begun to arrive, former players and managers lining up to talk of his importance to the club in the past, present, and—for a few years more at least—the future.
It's all a touch predictable, of course, despite being entirely deserved. And despite the many insistences that Gerrard still has plenty to offer his club, it all can't help but have something of the air of a career's obituary as tends to be the case when it comes to registering those more lofty career milestones.
Jamie Carragher, however, thinks Gerrard still has more than a fair few seasons left in his legs before the time comes for teary retrospectives and talk of hanging up his boots. In fact, he thinks it's a near certainty that when all is said and done Gerrard will have passed 700 games played for Liverpool and eclipse whatever total Carragher himself eventually achieves.
"It depends when we both finish playing," Carragher said, "but I expect he will. When Stevie gets to my position—and I don't know if he'll want to be in the position I've been in for the last six to 12 months because I've been on the bench a lot—he will still always come on. As a centre-back you don't come off the bench unless there are strange circumstances.
"I would imagine he'll play more games [as a midfielder]. And listen, he's been a better player than me for Liverpool so he thoroughly deserves that. If you look at the Swansea game [on Wednesday], he's still getting brought off the bench to rescue it for us. That's been the way for 13 or 14 years now.
"When that changes, maybe he'll look at it, but he's still expected to produce the Superman act at 32, so I think we're still a while away from that."
Whether Liverpool perhaps should have sorted out a Plan B to Gerrard's Superman act at some point between 2009's second placed finish in the league and today is of course a question over which much real and digital ink has been spilled, yet would haves and should haves don't change a reality wherein Carragher's words ring unquestionably true.
And as much as anything, the defender's words also speak to a growing understanding and acceptance of his own role at the club, a shift in attitude that has been helped by a shifting outlook as a defender once known for heart and hoofing has become one of the club's most vocal proponents of passing and patience.
It's a shift that could be clearly seen over the summer, before he'd even had a chance to work with Brendan Rodgers, when he was one of the few truly standout pundits at the European Championships, willing to discuss tactics in depth and quick to promote a high defensive line and playing from the back as the future—and present—of the game. And today, it means a more graceful Carragher—both on and off the pitch—than many would have once thought possible.
How much Carragher's unexpected late career development might provide a template for Gerrard should the club ever find a new Superman is an open question, of course, but with the club's captain about to register his 600th game and with his career closer to it's finish than its start, it is nice to know that it turns out every once in a while you can teach an old dog new tricks.