Saturday saw over 35,000 fans attend Anfield for Jamie Carragher’s long-awaited testimonial, in which a Liverpool XI defeated their Everton counterparts 4-1.
However, the day was not just about celebrating the centre back’s long-standing association with the Reds, it was also a day where a reported £1 million was raised for the stalwart’s ’23 foundation’, which was set up to raise money for local children and worthy causes. (For more information visit: http://www.jamiecarragher23.co.uk/index.cfm).
The game itself saw a host of former/current Liverpool and Everton players take part. For the Reds, names such as Jerzy Dudek, Steve Finnan and Luis Garcia, all part of the 2005 Champions League winning side, featured alongside the likes of Gary McAllister, Danny Murphy and Michael Owen.
The striker received a mixed reception at the best of times, whilst current Kop idol Steven Gerrard, fresh from England duty on Friday night, managed to put in a ten-minute cameo.
Despite the word testimonial applying to this game of football, the man himself acted as if it was just a normal run of the mill Merseyside derby and he ensured that his teammates knew that as well.
Luis Garcia, recently signed by Panathinaikos, showed that he hasn’t lost his habit of scoring wonderful goals by curling an effort past Iain Turner after just two minutes to give the home side the lead.
Then, just two minutes before half-time, a penalty was awarded and Carragher took the honour from Owen and then dispatched the spot kick to make it 2-0.
The second half was a procession with the Reds dominating, just like they did in the first half, and Joe Cole grabbed a goal to make it 3-0 before another penalty was awarded by referee Mark Halsey (continuing his return from defeating throat cancer). W
hat happened next surprised, yet amused everyone in the ground after the Bootle-born hero cheekily ran up and scored past Jones in the Liverpool goal before Yakubu even had the chance to do so himself!
That own goal proved to be the last act for the man of the hour, and he was substituted to a well deserved standing ovation from the Anfield crowd.
Reserves striker Nathan Eccleston made it 4-1 not long after and there was time for players past and present to get a run out, with cult hero McAllister (remembered for his derby winner in 2001) coming on to a warm applause.
Overall, the day was a great success for the man who has made 635 appearances in a distinguished spell which has seen him win every trophy, with one notable exception - the Premier League. But this was not the closing of a story, far from it.
Carragher himself believes that there is plenty more still to come and will continue to offer his services to the club he has served with such distinction, until he is told otherwise.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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