Steven Gerrard: 'Carra Retiring Makes You Think. He Will Go Out On A High'

The testimonial is booked for August and Sunday sees the final appearance in a Merseyside derby of long-time colleague and confidant, Jamie Carragher.

Signposts towards the end of an era are appearing before Steven Gerrard but that shattering, destabilising day for Liverpool can wait. Mercifully for Brendan Rodgers, his captain's immediate future involves a contract extension at Anfield, not a Sky TV studio or a sidestep into coaching.

"Talks have started but I think it is something that will get sorted at the end of the season," says Gerrard, who has 13 months remaining on his current deal. "It's not a stand-off or anything like that. They want me to extend, I want to extend, it's just a matter of time, really. How long for I'm not too sure yet. That's under discussion at the moment. But it will get sorted one way or another in the summer."

Gerrard turns 33 at the end of the month. Rodgers believes the Liverpool midfielder can play into his late 30s, an argument backed by Gerrard's record of playing every minute of every Premier League game this season until, with the match won handsomely at Newcastle on Saturday, he was withdrawn in readiness for the encounter with Everton. Sunday will see him start his 36th consecutive league game – equalling his previous longest run between April 2006 and April 2007.

The buildup to the 220th Merseyside derby is not unlike any other for a Liverpool captain from Huyton, with its usual pressure, media demands and ticket requests. But the realisation it will be the last with Carragher alongside has brought home that one thing even Gerrard cannot defy – time.

"I'm not saying I can see the finishing line but it does let you know that you're in the final stages of your career," says the Liverpool captain. "People think I am a similar age to Carra because we're quite close and have played together so long, but there's two-and-a-half years difference. That tells you probably how long I have left.

"Carra retiring does make you think. They say time flies when you're having fun and when you're doing a job like we do, which is a dream for everyone in the local area, to play for Liverpool at this level all your career, it's fantastic. I think Carra is looking back with a smile on his face rather than being gutted or devastated. He can be proud of what he's done and the career he's had. He's going out with people wanting a bit more rather than saying: 'Get him out, he's making a show of himself.' He will go out on a high. He's picked the right time."

Gerrard can still recall the first time he encountered Carragher and that unmistakable Bootle shrill. "I was cleaning the dressing room at the old Melwood, mopping the floors, and I got a bit of verbal from him about my haircut," he says. "It was his little gang, [Jamie] Cassidy, [David] Thompson and Carra, but I'm not telling you what he said because I don't want it in the paper! I still sit next to him on the team bus, speak to him outside of training and do things with him outside of training. He's the first person I look for when I come to work. I have most contact with him in the workplace on a daily basis. It will be a lot different next year when I come in and he's not here."

With a similar background, career path, trophy collection and service to Liverpool, Gerrard is uniquely placed to appreciate Carragher's contribution and the void his impending retirement will leave on and off the pitch. "Good luck to the manager filling that, it will be hard," he says.

"It is harder for a local player to last as long as he has at Liverpool, and also Liverpool have got the capabilities and power to attract the best defenders in the world over the last 15 years, probably more so four or five years ago when we were playing in the Champions League year in and year out. Possibly every defender in the world would want to play for Liverpool back then. So for him to beat off a lot of top players to keep that position his own just goes to show how good a player he was. I think in the Champions League years when we were regularly in the quarter-finals and semi-finals he was one of the best defenders in Europe without a doubt."

Everton, Carragher's boyhood team, "is the result he'd want if he had to pick one over the season", according to Gerrard, who insists his team-mate's move into television at the end of the campaign will have no bearing on his own future career plans.

"I don't know if I would do TV," says the Liverpool captain, who is not planning to start his coaching qualifications until after next summer's World Cup.

"I change from day-to-day on what I want to do but I'm hoping I can play on for another few years yet. It crosses my mind all the time but I'll change. I can go days and weeks thinking, 'I'd quite like a go at the coaching and the management side of it', and then something will happen like a bad result or a player winding you up and you think, 'I don't think I'd be able to handle it'. So you change from week to week but what I can guarantee is I'll be staying in the game in some capacity."

Powered by article was written by Andy Hunter, for The Guardian on Friday 3rd May 2013 22.43 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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