LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Jamie Carragher of Liverpool directs his team during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on August 20, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
He's already had his testimonial, and in recent seasons has become an increasingly divisive figure on the pitch as fans argue over whether past exploits and nearly a decade spent as one of the cornerstone's of Liverpool's defence alongside Sami Hyypia are enough to excuse some of the negatives that have come to mark the twilight of his career. The day after recording his latest club milestone, however, is more suited to remembering past glories than worrying about the future.
What role he's capable of playing moving forward and what he may or may not bring to the side in the present are topics that are increasingly difficult to avoid when it comes to Jamie Carragher. Having just last night registered his 700th senior cap for Liverpool Football Club, today isn't about those questions. For at least one day, just where Carragher stands in the present as a player and what respect is owed to him before he eventually hangs up his boots must take a backseat to remembrances of his glory days, of European cups and last-gasp tackles and domestic doubles—plus the odd bit of shouting and an occasional own goal.
The boyhood Everton fan switched allegiances when he joined Liverpool's academy in 1990, rising through the ranks and in 1996 winning the FA Youth Cup before making his debut for the first team the following season. His early career saw Carragher labeled a utility player, as though he regularly started he was as likely to do so at either fullback position as he was to start at centre back. This was the case first under Roy Evans and then Gerard Houllier, though when Rafa Benitez arrived in 2004 Carragher would finally ditch the label and lock down a role in the middle of Liverpool's defence.
Along with the full-time move to centre back, the 2004-05 season saw what for many fans will be remembered as the highlight of his career and the making of his status as a Liverpool legend, with Carragher making a pair of interceptions in extra time of the Champions League final while suffering from cramping. The next year, his tenth cup final in ten senior seasons saw Liverpool capture the FA Cup on penalties despite an early own goal by the defender. Two years later he made his 500th appearance, and two years after that he reached 600.
After becoming Liverpool's second most capped player of all time in May of 2011 against Fulham when he made his 666th appearance and with Ian Callaghan's record of 857 out of reach, the 700 that he achieved last night was perhaps little more than a symbolic milestone that will change little in how Carragher's history is recorded when he does retire. Still, there's nothing wrong with a little symbolism every now and then, and as much as we may question Carragher the player as his career winds down, there's little room to question whether he at least deserves to be counted as a local legend.