Jamie Carragher has extra reason to be proud of his part in Liverpool FC's success in reaching a second UEFA Champions League final in the last three seasons.
Jamie Carragher has extra reason to be proud of his part in Liverpool FC's success in reaching a second UEFA Champions League final in three seasons.
The homegrown defender, the epitome of a one-club player, has set a Liverpool appearance record in UEFA competition, with last night's 4-1 penalties triumph against Chelsea FC coming in his 90th European match. The shoot-out followed a 1-0 win after extra time that cancelled out the visitors' first-leg lead from last week. That encounter in London had seen Carragher equal Ian Callaghan's 89 games between 1964 and 1978.
Carragher's continental bow came on 30 September 1997 in a UEFA Cup first-round second leg at Anfield. In a telling portent of his ability to frustrate forwards, the then 19-year-old more than contributed to the 0-0 draw against Celtic FC that took Liverpool through 2-2 on aggregate. The No23 was to miss out in the second round as Liverpool were eliminated but, after establishing himself as a regular by the following campaign, he has never looked back.
'Everyone is buzzing'
The England centre-back also has plenty to look forward to, not least his 91st UEFA club match - the 2007 UEFA Champions League final in Athens. "We are delighted and everyone is buzzing," he told uefa.com in the wake of the semi-final victory. "It is obviously a great result. Chelsea were big favourites before the game, so to come out and be in another Champions League final is great." As two years ago, when Liverpool fans descended on Istanbul to witness the defeat of AC Milan in another shoot-out after a 3-3 draw, Athens is sure to witness a Red invasion.
The supporters played their passionate part at Anfield last night, though Carragher was not surprised. "It happens all the time in European games at Liverpool," the 29-year-old said. "The fans are renowned for it." Another not to hinder the Liverpool cause was goalkeeper Pepe Reina who saved two Chelsea spot-kicks, while Carragher admitted there was a little confusion as Dirk Kuyt stepped up for the decisive penalty. "We were trying to work out what the score was and what we needed to do. [Petr] Cěch is one of the best keepers in the world so you're always thinking he might save one. You are never sure until it is over."