After making more than 700 appearances over sixteen years, Jamie Carragher has today revealed that these next few months will be his last as a Liverpool player, ending any speculation about what the future might hold for the veteran defender.
"This will be my last season at Liverpool and my last as a professional footballer," said Carragher. "I'm making this announcement now because I don't want the manager or the club to be answering questions on my future when I've already decided what I am going to do."
In January, Carragher talked about the difficulty of knowing that his career was nearing its end, but at the time it seemed as though the 35-year-old hadn't yet made up his mind. There had also been speculation in recent seasons that if Carragher's playing time dwindled at Liverpool, the player might look for another situation that might offer a few more years of regular action.
In the end, though, his final decision has come quickly, putting to an early end any to questions about his future that might have gotten in the way of the club's push in the league and Europa League this year. And in the end, his final decision means he will end his career as one of an increasingly rare breed of one-club players.
"I will be fully committed between now and the end of the season to doing the very best for Liverpool Football Club, as I've done my entire career since joining aged just nine-years-old.
"It has been a privilege and an honour to represent this great club for as long as I have and I am immensely proud to have done so and thankful for all the support I have had. There are many memories I want to share and people to thank, but now is not the time for that.
"I won't be making any further comment on this decision until the end of the season; all our focus and concentration should be on achieving the best possible finish in the league this season and trying to win the last remaining trophy we are competing in."
After starting in Liverpool's last two league matches, few would have expected Carragher's decision to come now—even if for many there was a suspicion this season would be his last. Manager Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, believes Carragher will still be heavily involved between now and May despite having made the decision to end his career.
"He will have a significant role to play for us between now and May," said Rodgers, "and I know his commitment and dedication on the pitch will remain as it has done his entire career at Liverpool.
"Jamie's focus is always on doing what is best for the team and he has said he doesn't want any distractions while there are still important matches to be played and won. But when the time is right we will give the man the tribute and recognition he deserves; I know the supporters will want to say thank you to someone who has served them with such distinction for so long."
Carragher's Liverpool career hasn't been without its bumps; hasn't been without its difficult moments. But in the end, on balance, it would likely be very difficult to find anyone who could disagree with Rogers' sentiment.