Despite playing 651 matches fewer, Emre Can has set his sights on emulating Jamie Carragher and becoming a Liverpool legend.
While their reputation at the Merseyside club differs massively, there is something they do have in common - the number 23 shirt.
Carragher wore that number for the entirety of his Liverpool career but, after he retired following the 2012/13 campaign, Can decided he wanted that number when he arrived at the club from Bayer Leverkusen in 2014.
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Last season, Can was often deployed in Carragher’s defensive position as part of a back-three but has been brilliant under Jurgen Klopp playing in a central midfield role this campaign.
And the 22-year-old has revealed the reason he wanted to wear the number 23 shirt.
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“I think if you see the number 23, a lot of legends have worn it like Michael Jordan, Carragher and Beckham and I want to be a legend as well one day,” he told Football Focus.
“It is huge, I’m very proud that I can have the number.
“I know that Carragher is a legend here at Liverpool and hopefully I will be a legend as well.”
While far from a club legend at the moment, Can showed the sort of determination demonstrated by Carragher by getting himself back to full fitness ahead of the conclusion of the season. Can suffered ankle ligament damage against Borussia Dortmund on April 14 and scans suggested he would be ruled out for six weeks.
But, after training solidly for eight hours each day, he was fit enough to play the 90 minutes against Villarreal in the Europa League semi-final three weeks later where Liverpool won 3-0 to progress to the final.
"I wanted to come back very early - it was my target," Can told Liverpool's club website.
"I spent every day here at Melwood, for seven or eight hours. I worked really hard with the physios and fitness coaches and I'm happy that I'm back. It was a target to come back for the second leg [against Villarreal].”
Despite being a regular first-team member, it’s likely Can will keep hold of his number 23 shirt ahead of next season and he attempts to follow in Carragher’s footsteps. If he wants to do that, winning a European Cup final would be the perfect place to start.
Carragher won the Champions League in 2005 and, if Can wants to become a Liverpool legend, he needs to ensure he leads his side to glory in next week’s Europa League final against Sevilla.
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