Carragher and Messi prove they are loyal 'one-club' men
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher to hang up his boots as Lionel Messi vows to stick with Barcelona
IN AN era when loyalty is a scarce commodity among footballers, two famous 'one-club' men have this week won plaudits for their commitment.
In Liverpool, tributes have been flooding in for veteran Anfield defender Jamie Carragher, who has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the season at the age of 35, while in Spain Barcelona phenomenon Lionel Messi has signed a two-year extension to his current deal that will keep him at the Camp Nou for at least another five years.
Carragher, who made his debut for Liverpool in 1997 at the age of 18, will bow out at the end of the season and has already been tipped for a glittering career as a coach or a TV pundit, despite being the butt of jokes about his thick Scouse accent throughout his career.
Carragher has made 723 appearances for the Reds, second in the all-time Anfield list behind Ian Callaghan, who played for Liverpool in the 1960s and 70s.
"He has enjoyed a wonderful career and can stand alongside Tony Adams and John Terry as a defensive giant," said former team-mate Jamie Redknapp in the Daily Mail. "I would advise any young defender to travel to Liverpool and watch him play while you still can."
He has been badly underrated during his career said Phil McNulty of the BBC. "Too often Carragher has been damned with faint praise," he claimed, and added that along with Steven Gerrard he represented "a direct line between the team and the terraces through periods of turbulence and change, as well as glorious success, at Anfield".
One player who, like Carragher, has come to represent everything his team stands for, but who has never been under-rated, is Lionel Messi. The 25-year-old may hail from Argentina but has been at the Camp Nou since the age of 13 and has now agreed to stay there until the summer of 2018, by which time he will be 31.
The Barcelona star put pen to paper on his contract extension yesterday and also pledged that he would never abandon the Catalans for any of their rivals.
"In Europe I'd like to end my career at Barca," he said. "I wouldn't consider moving to another European club." However, he did not rule out a return to Argentina to end his career.
Messi has already established himself as one of the greatest-ever players and in 2012 broke the record for the number of goals scored in a calendar year, by netting an extraordinary 91 times. He is already Barcelona's greatest ever goal-scorer with 298 strikes under his belt, and if he maintains his current form he could double that before his contract expires.