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Carra: My Autobiography by Jamie Carragher

Release date: 07th September, 2008
Publisher: Bantam Press

List Price: £18.99
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At the height of the will-he-won't-he transfer saga involving Stephen Gerrard and his possible move to Stamford Bridge a few years ago, one of the Liverpool man's staunchest allies, team-mate Jamie Carragher, was interviewed by Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves, who was keen to record his opinion on the likely outcome. Business concluded, Shreeves asked Carragher whether he would ever consider leaving Anfield for a 'bigger club'. A bemused Carragher quickly retorted: "Where's bigger than Liverpool?"

It was a classic 'don't-be-so-stupid' repost which re-affirmed the defender's love for Anfield.

Several months later, when Liverpool hosted Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League quarter final, Carragher produced another outstanding display. As he did, the Kop adapted one of its most regularly-used tunes, the Beatles' Yellow Submarine, fitting fresh words to the instantly recognisable melody: "We all dream of a team of Carraghers" the Kop's ranked masses belted out in honour of a player whose gritty determination and passion were central to Liverpool's unlikely pursuit of European club football's greatest trophy.

Liverpool supporters adore Carragher, for he represents everything they want to see in a player; what fan could argue with their choice? In an age when footballers appear intent on staying with a club for three of four years before moving on to even more lucrative pastures, 'Carra' has been a loyal employee, building enormous rapport with the Anfield faithful.

Carragher is to Liverpool what Gary Neville is to Manchester United and John Terry to Chelsea: all three are outstanding - and brave - defenders.

Anyone who watched the 2005 Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan will recall how the Reds tired noticeably during extra time: it was at this point that Carragher's will to win was most evident.

"During the second period of extra time," he writes, "I stretched to intercept a cross and my leg crampedÖ thirty seconds laterÖI had no choice but to stretch the same leg to make a decisive tackle on Shevchenko. As I did so, it seemed the whole world was wincing on my behalf, appreciating the physical torment I was enduring."

Carragher's performance that balmy night in Istanbul has become part of Anfield folklore and while Liverpool's improbable success has been deemed 'sport's greatest-ever comeback', Carra is not a belated attempt to re-live an outrageously famous victory in print.

"Many football autobiographies slip into the clichÈ of rags-to-riches tales, every chapter sprinkled with sentimental accounts of how a multi-million pound player once couldn't afford his own bootlaces," writes Carragher, adding, "but mine is no story of a poor Scouser."

Indeed it isn't. This is an honest account of how life was for a gifted footballer initially recruited as a striker by Liverpool. Granted, there's inevitable cross-referencing of former team-mates names and a plethora of youthful nicknames, most of which appear to end in either 'y' or 'o'. But Carra also offers a platform for a man scandalously discarded by former England boss "Schteve" McClaren to open up far more than he ever would in a televised interview.

Carragher hasn't yet played in especially outstandingly brilliant football teams, but no matter: he never gives anything but his all, ensuring that fans of every colour secretly agree with the Kop's ditty. Carra's uncomplicated persona is reflected in his playing style; this fine autobiography strengthens the belief that he is a football fan doing something he adores while enjoying the recognition of those he admires most.

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