Reds manager convinced former England defender not to hang up his boots in the summer.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he persuaded Jamie Carragher not to retire last summer.
Veteran Carragher, 35, announced on Thursday that this season would be his last as a professional, leading to widespread praise for the centre-half, who has racked up 723 appearances for the Reds to date.
Only Ian Callaghan has made more appearances than ‘Carra’ for the Anfield club and Rodgers has stressed that his presence will be sorely missed on Merseyside.
“He is irreplaceable, he’s been a giant for me since I came to the club,” the Northern Irishman is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“Jamie had thoughts about this last summer when I arrived but we had some good conversations and I persuaded him to stay on.”
Pundits, managers and players alike have been quick to hail the one-club man, with former Liverpool bosses Kenny Dalglish and Rafa Benitez adding to the plaudits on Friday.
“Jamie’s decision was a surprise to me because he has just played as well as anyone against Arsenal and Manchester City,” said Dalglish, who was replaced by Rodgers in the summer.
“I thought he had a bit left in him yet but he knows himself better than anybody and if he thinks it is time to hang up the old boots that is totally his prerogative.
“It is always a difficult decision for a footballer – as hard a decision as you can face as a professional.
“It is more difficult because playing is the best part of your career – especially at the level he has played at and is playing at.
“We just have to be grateful that Liverpool has had a servant like Jamie. As a local boy it is always special and Jamie is a local boy who has never once got carried away with it all and who can relate to the supporters. That’s really important.”
Speaking at his pre-weekend Chelsea press conference, Champions League-winning Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez also paid tribute.
“To play more than 700 games for any team in football is a really great achievement; more than 700 games for just one club is even better.
“Nobody can argue about the character, determination and professionalism of Carra. He was a key player for us. In 2007, John Terry, a very good centre-back, said Carra was one of the best centre-backs at that time.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers admitted that new signing Philippe Coutinho could be in line for a surpsie start this weekend.
“He had been injured but trained this morning. He is a young player who is very exciting and I have high hopes for. He trained with group and we will observe him,” Rodgers said of the January signing from Inter Milan.
“He is a top young player and bringing him into the group adds great competition. It is important to have players trying to get in the side. We wanted to build a competitive squad.”