Over the past few months, with Jamie Carragher playing some of his best football in years since announcing he would retire at the end of the season, there had been growing speculation the defender might reconsider his decision to hang up the boots. For Carragher, though, it only confirmed that he had made the right decision.
"It’s nice that people are saying, ‘You’re playing well, you should carry on,' but the more I hear that the more I think I’ve made the right decision to go now," said Carragher as he prepares for the final three games of his career. "As an Everton fan and Liverpool player I’ve seen too many people get slaughtered when supporters think they’ve gone on too long. I don’t want that."
At times since 2008-09's run to second in the league as the club came as close as they ever have in the Premier League era to breaking their title drought, it had begun to appear as though Carragher had in fact put things off too long. The club was mired in turmoil, struggling through ownership changes and managerial changes and having fallen out of England's top four with a heavy thud.
And for Carragher, his personal fortunes as a player seemed a mirror of the club's larger struggles. Always seemingly a step behind his best opponents, he had made a career out of overcoming any physical limitations through sheer force of will, but some combination of ageing legs and Liverpool's fading standing appeared too much to overcome.
The arrival of Brendan Rodgers, though, and at least the outward appearance of something resembling hope and stability, seem to have given him the boost he needed to end his career on a more positive note. It may not bring with it the glory of going out with a trophy in his hands, but at least it will allow Carragher to go out on in the manner of his choosing.
"I’d been thinking for a while," he added, "how do you get out? How do you finish with Liverpool? And a quote I’d read years ago stuck with me: ‘Leave the football before football leaves you.’ I’ve always had that in the back of my mind. Especially as I’ve been at Liverpool all of my life and I never want to let the club or supporters down.
"New players will come in this summer and at my age I could be back on the bench next season. There might even be games where I don’t make the bench. Imagine walking around Anfield in a suit on a match-day when you’re fit to play?
"Of course there will be things I miss like the great feeling of camaraderie in the dressing room after a good result. But on the flip side I won’t miss the bit where you’ve lost the game and you’re devastated."
For a time it did appear Carragher's retirement would come with the player relegated to the bench, and perhaps even to the stands. Now, at least, he will go out on his own terms. For a player who has always played with as much pride and determination as he has, it's easy to understand why that would be important—why it would even keep him from reconsidering his decision to retire.