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Carra's Final Derby: You Can't Escape the Blues

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From local to legend, Jamie Carragher speaks from the heart about his favourite rivalry and the only way he can enjoy his last Merseyside derby.

Alex Livesey

For those of us who have already begun with the heaving, gasping, mucousy ugly crying in preparation for Jamie Carragher's final three matches with the club, there is seemingly no respite from the flood of thoughtful and endearing interviews Carra has participated in recently.

His latest with the Mirror is lengthy and worth the misty-eyed read in and of itself, but it's his fervour for the Merseyside derby that really takes centre stage. Carragher will, barring injury or an incredible turn of luck for Martin Skrtel, participate in his thirtieth and final derby on Sunday at home in front of the Anfield faithful.

"I love the derby and I could play them every week," Carragher said. "The nerves, the thinking about it weeks before, the build up in the city, the feeling if you win: it’s just great.

"If I could only win one game every year it would be the derby without a shadow of a doubt. I totally get the Man United/Liverpool thing but for me playing Everton is bigger. If you get beat by United the fans are 40 minutes down the road, but you can’t get away from Evertonians."

Carragher famously grew up supporting Everton before joining Liverpool and knows, perhaps better than anyone, the ferocity of the rivalry. With only two veteran Scousers currently at the club, Carragher's departure severs one of the threads that ties local lads who came good to the city's fiercest match. Steven Gerrard will shoulder the bulk of this responsibility next season, although manager Brendan Rodgers has made it clear that it's important for the club to always have local players in its first team ranks.

Still, even with a handful of native Liverpudlians moving up through and graduating from the club's youth system, it's hard to imagine anyone rivaling Carra's place as the man who most loves the Merseyside derby. Liverpool painstakingly curates a feeling of being a small, close-knit club and Carragher's development from local lad to local legend has probably played no small part in keeping the derby not just a local rivalry but also a personal one. This is a derby that divides families, after all, and not even the Carragher family is immune.

"When I come out of the intensity of Liverpool," Carragher continued, "I might say I’d like to see Everton win a cup we’ve been knocked out of, which wouldn’t be the case [while he's still playing]. But there’s no way I’ll go back to wanting Everton to beat Liverpool. My brothers may go back to supporting Everton, but my dad won’t, I won’t and my son will always been a Liverpudlian."

Some people are born Reds, some are converted Reds, but no one, save for those with a special dispensation from the Pope, is able to be both at once. For Carragher, no amount of sentimentality towards the upcoming match will yield any non-partisan feelings on the pitch.

"Being my last derby this game is huge to me," he added. "I hope I enjoy it but I know the only way I will is if we win it."