Regrets? Jamie Carragher can have few.
The Premier League winner's medal that would have completed his collection is one; the 30-yard shot that cannoned off a post on his 737th and final appearance for Liverpool another. The biggest, however, was articulated and felt by the Kop and Brendan Rodgers – it is all over, and all over too soon.
In truth Carragher's farewell to Anfield after 16 outstanding years was a day for tribute, not regret, and the script was followed to perfection with the agonising exception of the 62nd-minute shot that flew beyond Rob Green in the Queens Park Rangers goal only to rebound clear off the woodwork.
There was a rousing reception before, during and after a game settled in the 23rd minute – Carragher's number – by Philippe Coutinho's stunning finish. One more clean sheet will be consolation to this most conscientious of defenders.
Steven Gerrard stepped out first before kick-off, suited and with shoulder swathed in a sling following a recent operation and with Luis Suárez behind him as Liverpool players and staff, plus QPR, formed a guard of honour for the 35-year-old.
The Kop held aloft a mosaic that read "JC 23" as Liverpool's vice-captain emerged with his children, James and Mia, and Anfield dreamed of a team of Carraghers. He looked suitably embarrassed and implored his team-mates to break from the line and start the warm-up.
But the most telling tribute was unscripted. "One more year, one more year" chanted the Kop. It grew louder in the 70th minute when Carragher chased 40 yards to beat Loïc Rémy to the corner flag and turned the ball back to his goalkeeper, José Reina.
Liverpool began scouring the globe for new central defenders in January. It will be some feat if they unearth someone with the same commitment and desire as the man from Bootle.
"One of my biggest regrets is that I never had longer to work with him," Rodgers admitted. "It is with great sadness that he is moving on, but we have to move on. I don't think there are many about like him. There is not many around like Carra with his quality so we need to find a good one to come in and support the group. It won't be easy."
That Carragher would depart on the winning side was never in doubt and Harry Redknapp declared he may leave QPR this summer if suitable reinforcements, and departures, are not made. "If I can't change it around during the summer and get some good lads in I wouldn't want to come back," said the visitors' manager, who omitted José Bosingwa and Adel Taarabt from his squad. "One player got fined more this month than he earned in wages and he earns plenty of money."
In his programme notes Rodgers described his debut season as Liverpool manager as one of "disappointment and delight" and admitted: "I have a long way to go to gain your trust fully." He cited the emergence of several young talents as a major positive, however, and backed that conviction by giving Jordon Ibe his debut.
The stocky 17-year-old from Bermondsey, signed from Wycombe Wanderers 18 months ago, thrived in the space afforded by Rangers and justified his inclusion before creating the winning goal for Coutinho. Controlling an awkward crossfield pass from Stewart Downing on his chest, Ibe cut inside Michael Harriman and Stéphane Mbia and showed the presence of mind to assist a better-placed colleague rather than take a hopeful shot. Coutinho, far and away the best of Rodgers's signings as Liverpool manager, swept a perfect finish into the bottom right-hand corner from 25 yards.
That should have been the second of the game for Liverpool and their destructive Brazilian. Coutinho was somehow left unmarked when Downing swung over a second-minute corner and steered a diving header beyond Green at the back post. Harriman hooked the header clear but Liverpool players immediately claimed the ball had crossed the line. Replays suggested they were correct.
The second half was an exhibition until Carragher, who escaped a booking for trying to score with his hand at one point, was withdrawn for a standing ovation in the 86th minute.
The final word, given on the Anfield pitch, belonged to him. Carragher said: "I'd just like to say thanks to everyone here today and everyone who has supported me since I made my debut in '97. I scored at the Kop end on my home debut and almost finished it off today.
"I've had lots of great times and have got lots of great memories and that is down to Liverpool Football Club and the supporters who have dragged us over the line many times. Istanbul, Cardiff; you've played your part. Thank you."
Man of the match Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
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