STEWART DOWNING says a burning desire to give Jamie Carragher the perfect send-off will give Liverpool added motivation to succeed over the coming months.
The Reds winger was shocked by the long-serving defender’s announcement that he will retire at the end of the season.
But Downing is determined to ensure the vice-captain departs on a high and believes winning the Europa League would be a fitting tribute.
“That would be perfect, if we won something,” Downing said.
“You could see what the Carling Cup meant to him last year.
“It would be nice if we could win something for him.
“He’s obviously a massive player for this club and is influential when he’s not playing. He’s good around young players and the older players.
“He’s a voice and a good lad.
“Carra will probably just want to play until the end of the season now, so that he can say he played his last season and did well. I still think he has got a lot to offer but he has made his decision.”
Downing hoped Carragher’s return to the starting line-up in recent weeks would convince him to extend his playing career beyond May.
But the 35-year-old, who is set to make his 724th appearance for the Reds in Monday night’s home clash with West Brom, has opted to go out at the top.
“I was quite shocked because he’s been playing and I thought he maybe had got the itch back to give it one more year,” Downing added.
“But I can understand because the type of player that Jamie is, he’s not one to be sat around. You can see he gets frustrated when he is not playing and he’s basically like a manager when he’s sitting on the touchline.
“Honestly, he’s just commentating all the way through, like at Oldham recently. You can see he’s got the potential to be a manager. He thinks about the game all the time and knows everything about any player. That’s why I found it strange.
“What’s he going to do because I think football is his life? I thought he would have stayed on for another year but credit to him. He’s obviously seen that maybe he’s not going to play as much as he would like. It’s a big loss for us.”
Downing admits Carragher’s passion and total commitment, coupled with his defensive talents, will be sorely missed.
The 28-year-old says training games will be less competitive and the dressing room will be a much quieter place.
Downing said: “He’s clattered a few people, I can tell you! Nothing is friendly, there is no such thing as a training game.
“Everything is 100% with Carra, that is what has made him have such a career. He has worked hard at his game over the years and become a top player. He’s a legend here.
“Him and Stevie (Gerrard), if something needs to be said, they will say it.
“They have been here a long time and they know what is needed.
“I’ve played left-back alongside Carra in some games and you think to yourself ‘he never stops going!’ He’s always there on your case.
“He’s not frightened of anyone. He won’t just pick on a young lad. If someone is not doing their job, he will be at them.
“He has probably had many arguments over the years. I remember the one with Alvaro Arbeloa and I wasn’t even here for that! That’s Carra for you.
“He keeps people on their toes and some lads needs that because they can switch off.
“There are not many players like him around in dressing rooms now. Carra won’t sit around. He is on at people, always telling people what to do.
“That’s what gets him going.
“He likes to shout and be heard. He is probably psyching himself up.
“He is one of the old school and good on him.”