Brought off after 86 minutes, given the chance to receive one last standing ovation from the Anfield faithful and to mark the end of a career that spanned 17 seasons, chants of "one more year" rained down from around the stadium. Jamie Caargher acknowledged the crowd, shook the hand of his manager, and left the pitch for the final time as a professional football player.
It wasn't quite enough to make him go back on his promise not to cry; his promise that no matter what happened on Sunday afternoon when Liverpool faced QPR, he would remain focused only on the game at hand. But it wasn't far off, and afterwards Carragher admitted that the emotion of the occasion nearly got to him.
"I'm not the type to get too emotional," he insisted before admitting, "but it is emotional. I've got my friends and family in the stands; I just wanted to concentrate on the game. We got the win that we wanted and I can go and enjoy myself now.
"It [was] brilliant. We always have a great time at the last game of the season. It was a special send-off for me and a day I'll never forget. I've been playing here a long time and it's sad to think I'll never play at this stadium again in a competitive game. But it has to come to an end at some stage and I've got some great memories."
And while Carragher did his best to remain focused on the match, his manager was doing his best not to let the occasion get the better of him in his own way lest he forgot to remove Carragher until too late or mistakenly made his third substitution before getting to the retiring defender.
"I knew I was going to do it," said Rodgers of the decision to take Carragher off with a few minutes remaining in regulation time. "Traditionally they come off at the end and I was frightened in case I forgot.
"He's an incredible player and a real gentleman. You saw his performance today—his ambition was to go out at the top and he's going out as a top, top performer. We've spoken a lot during the season but I knew from his vibe that his mind was made up last year. His love and professionalism saw him through his contract and he's been absolutely first class."
Now, though, with Carragher's days as a Liverpool player officially over, the concern for the manager becomes what comes next. Most of the options currently at the club appear either out of favour or inexperienced, and a major signing or two for the backline seems a necessity if the club is going to challenge for the top four next season.
"What he's got at this football club is unique," added Rodgers of the tough task he now faces to replace Carragher. "You have to find different ways. All great players, their time comes to an end. We've seen it here through the years. You look at Ian Rush when he went away and they brought in John Barnes and Peter Beardsley—and they brought something else.
"We need to find a good one now to come in and support the group—and it certainly won't be easy."
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