Jamie Carragher answers Fabio Capello’s World Cup call
It was probably a phone call that Jamie Carragher had been expecting.
With both Wes Brown and Joleon Lescott still injured, and Carragher’s Liverpool team-mate Glen Johnson struggling for fitness throughout the campaign, the Reds’ vice-captain wouldn’t have been too surprised at Fabio Capello’s third attempt to try and get him to come out of international retirement and play at his second World Cup. What was a surprise, was that this time he’s accepted.
Today’s call up to England’s provisional 30-man World Cup squad will surely be followed by a spot in the final 23 boarding the plane to South Africa. He played in all but one of Liverpool’s league matches in 2009/10, and so unlike Owen Hargreaves he won’t have to prove his fitness.
His selection has polarised opinion among many, but what can’t be argued is his quality, his determination and his experience. Despite that, Carragher wouldn’t have taken this decision lightly.
He retired from internationals in the summer of 2007 after tiring of repeatedly being overlooked in favour of the latest flavour of the month to emerge in the England defence. At 29, he felt he was experienced enough and good enough to warrant a regular place in the side, but England managers would write him off as the utility man, a jack of all trades but master of none. Seeing that, he stepped aside to allow others a chance.
Now 32, and after emerging from Liverpool’s mess of a season with his reputation still intact, he’s ready to lend a hand again.
As he stated when he quit Steve McClaren’s 2007 regime, he was always ready to return should circumstances, and injuries, dictate it.
Likely to be Johnson’s understudy at right-back – where he played around three months of Liverpool’s season – Carragher’s experience and versatility is what will have drawn Capello to him. Able to step in at centre-back with a minimum of fuss should either Rio Ferdinand or Ledley King break down during the tournament, his selection makes more and more sense the more you think about it.
England supporters may have forgotten about Carragher’s sterling displays at the heart of Liverpool’s various European and domestic triumphs over the last 13 years, but Capello obviously hasn’t.
He’s won everything apart from the league title, and should he be required to step in at short notice at the finals then he’s unlikely to let anyone down, and he certainly won’t lack effort.
As is often the case with one-club men, Carragher can find it difficult to attract supporters, but if England supporters were to see past the “Scouse scally” persona that– he’d admit fairly – he attracted in his earlier days, they would find an honest, intelligent professional who will be a benefit to Capello’s squad even if he doesn’t get on the pitch.
His selection increases the number of leaders on the plane to South Africa, something that will surely be a good thing going into a World Cup that England have a real chance of winning, yet still he’ll be written off by many.
The debate about his inclusion is likely to run all the way up to the finals, but he won’t care.
He’s answered the call from Capello, so he doesn’t have to answer to anyone else.