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Rodgers pays tribute to retiring Carragher
Updated published : 20 May 2013 00:17:04Rss feed
Merseyside-born Carragher, who played 737 times for Liverpool in a career that spanned 16 years, will not be wearing the familiar number 23 shirt when Rodgers' side kick off their Premier League campaign in August after announcing his retirement.
Instead, the former England international, who was a firm Kop favourite, will be in his suit in a television studio, imparting his football knowledge to a new army of armchair fans as Sky's newest pundit.
While he goes by choice and with no regrets, the modest centre-half would have liked to have left with a farewell goal, but his second-half shot from 30 yards cannoned off a post with England goalkeeper Robert Green beaten and the crowd holding its breath.
Carragher, who scored only five goals in a brilliant career that took in a Champions League, a UEFA Cup and two FA Cup wins, recalled: "I scored at the Kop end on my debut and I'd have loved to finish it off with a goal!"
Rodgers, who must fill the gap in Liverpool's defence next season as he bids to improve on the club's final seventh placing, took Carragher off five minutes from the end so he could enjoy a huge personal ovation from the sell-out 44,792 crowd.
"He's one you don't usually want to come off, and I was frightened in case I forgot to do that!" Rodgers said.
"He's an incredible player, a colossal player and still fit and strong at 35. My biggest regret is not having longer to work with him, I would have liked that.
"I don't think there's many about like him, what he's got is unique, but all great players come to the end and time moves on. We need to find a good one to come in and it won't be easy."
The 35-year-old ran on to a guard of honour from Liverpool and QPR players, and received a memento in a presentation from Rangers' Liverpool-born captain Clint Hill, as well as a club award from Sixties idol Ian Callaghan.
Callaghan, a winger under pioneering manager Bill Shankly, is the only player with more Liverpool appearances than Carragher.
He called the Liverpool captain "a legend, one of the greatest players ever to play for Liverpool", adding: "He's been a fantastic ambassador for this club and besides that, he's a fantastic guy."
Liverpool had to settle for Philippe Countino's perfectly-placed 30-yard shot after 22 minutes to secure the points with Carragher's final flourish thwarted by the woodwork.
"Because of his warrior spirit, a lot of his technical quality gets overlooked. A goal would have been a lovely touch to round off the day," Rodgers added.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp faces a hard summer of recruitment and readjustment for the Championship after his team were relegated with only three wins all season.
But the former Tottenham and West Ham manager warned: "It won't be easy getting out of the Championship, there are a lot of big, quality clubs down there.
"The squad wasn't good enough this season, we never had any strikers. There was a big gulf against Liverpool.
"I just want to get a group in who are pleased to play football and take pride in what they do. But it won't be easy to shift some players."
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