JAMIE CARRAGHER has hailed Steven Gerrard as the greatest player in Liverpool’s history.
The Reds skipper will make his 600th appearance for the club in tomorrow’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United at Anfield.
Carragher, who is second on Liverpool’s all-time list having played 710 matches, believes the contribution of his close friend over the past 14 years means he deserves to be ranked in a class of his own.
“Steven is a special player at a special club,” said Carragher.
“This club has had lot of special players but for me he’s No 1. We’re talking about an iconic figure.
“People talk about Kenny Dalglish and Billy Liddell, then there’s (Graeme) Souness, (John) Barnes and (Ian) Rush.
“Kenny obviously won a lot more but Steven’s not been fortunate enough to play in what you would call an absolutely great Liverpool side. For me that adds to what he’s done.
“I just think for his performances in those two cup finals (the 2005 Champions League final and 2006 FA Cup final) – he’s taken it to another level.
“Football is a team game and everyone plays their part, but every team has a standout player and he’s been that for us. He’s done it on the big stage. You are never going to get another Steven Gerrard.
“I think sometimes as a local player you get appreciated more when you’ve gone.
“The stories about what Steven did in the big games will be passed down from fathers to sons. The Steven Gerrard stories will get talked about for the next 30, 40, 50 years.”
Carragher believes Gerrard’s application as well as his talent has enabled him to remain at the top of his profession for so long.
“He has always wanted to improve,” said Carragher.
“He was in the England team at 20, 21 but he’s been getting better all the time. He has kept moving forward.
“That comes from professionalism as well as ability. He’s come back from injuries, proved people wrong and shown that he’s still got it.
“He’s captain of his country and has won everything at Liverpool apart from the league title.
“He’s very dynamic and I’ve never seen a more complete player. That’s been a great help to him but also at times it’s been a hindrance because he’s had to play in different positions for Liverpool and England.
“He could have played for England for 10 years at right-back.
“The only place I’ve not seen him play is centre-back, thank God, otherwise I may have spent more time sitting on the bench!
“He’s been a great captain for Liverpool and very successful. He leads by example.
“Players look up to him and are in awe of him at times because he’s such a good player. He doesn’t need to say too much, he gets automatic respect because of his quality.”
Gerrard will become the 10th Liverpool player to reach 600 appearances. He’s under contract until the end of next season but Carragher expects him to play beyond that and knock the centre-back off second spot in the club’s all-time list.
Carragher said: “It depends when we both finish playing.
“Look at the Swansea game this week, he’s still getting brought on to rescue games for us. That’s been the way for 13 or 14 years now.
“When that changes, maybe he’ll look at it, but he’s still expected to produce the Superman act at 32, so I think we’re still a while away from that changing.
“When Stevie gets to my position – and I don’t know if he’ll want to be in the position I’ve been in for the last six to 12 months because I’ve been on the bench a lot – he will still always come on.
“I would imagine he’ll play more games than me and he’s been a better player than me for Liverpool so he thoroughly deserves that.”