Brothers in ARMS; Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher Celebrate Winning the 2006 FA Cup. and Unused Sub Carragher (Right) Was First to Console Gerrard after the Reds' Defeat in Last Year's Final
Byline: JAMES PEARCE
IT WAS a day Steven Gerrard knew was coming but he did his best to delay it.
When Jamie Carragher informed him about his retirement plans, the Liverpool skipper pleaded with him to stay on for another year.
However, this was one battle that not even Gerrard could win. There will be a spare seat on the team coach next to the talismanic midfielder next season.
Carragher hanging up his boots marks the end of an era. For the past 15 years the home-grown pair have stood shoulder to shoulder week after week and led the fight.
They have been the modern day Liverpool's heart and soul. From Cardiff to Dortmund to Istanbul to Wembley, the boys from Bootle and Huyton have provided the inspiration for so many cherished memories.
Yet now only Gerrard remains. At Anfield last Sunday he didn't just rue the departure of a Reds legend but also one of his closest friends.
"I tried just as hard as everyone else to try to keep him going for a bit longer," Gerrard said.
"I was trying for him to push on for another year but we have to respect his decision.
"Carra's had a fantastic career and he feels it's the right time to go out. He can be proud of what he's done. It's been an absolute pleasure to be a team-mate of his.
"It's sad for me. I'm going to miss him more than anyone. It's going to be different for me, not having him alongside me as a vice-captain.
"I sit next to him on the team bus and speak to him out of training. He's the first person I look for when I come to work. Coming in next year and he's not here will be a lot different for me.
"Everyone knows what we're going to miss on the playing side. Since I made my debut Jamie has been alongside me in the dressing room and been a close mate of mine.
"He has been through the journey with me as well. I've bounced a lot of things off him, highs and lows, and we've come through it all together."
A shoulder injury prevented Gerrard from lining up alongside Carragher in his emotional farewell appearance against Queens Park Rangers. But it was fitting that their final game together was the Merseyside derby at Anfield on May 5. It was November 29 1998 when the duo first lined up together for Liverpool.
Gerrard made his debut when he came off the bench to replace Vegard Heggem in a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers.
Two years and four months younger than the defender, Gerrard had seen Carragher break through into the first team two seasons earlier and was eager to follow in his footsteps.
His first meeting with Carragher as a young apprentice at Melwood made a lasting impression.
"I got a bit of verbal from him," Gerrard said. "I was cleaning the dressing room at Melwood, mopping the floors, and I got a bit of stick about my haircut.
"It was his little gang, Jamie Cassidy, Davie Thompson and Carra. They were the trio. It was just typical Carra.
"I could go on forever about the player.
"But it's the man, the person, I am going to miss around the place."
The pair enjoyed success together for the first time in the historic treble-winning season of 2001 when League Cup glory was followed by winning both the FA Cup and UEFA Cup. The League Cup was clinched again two years later. …