He may have been brought up as an Evertonian (a supporter of Liverpool's city rivals Everton), but there is no doubting Jamie Carragher's commitment to the Anfield club. The 27-year-old is just a few games short of making 400 appearances for the Reds; the only club he has played for. FIFA.com spoke to him a few days before he traveled to Istanbul for the UEFA Champions League final and after returning as a winner, he was delighted to share his memories of that night to the home of world football online.
FIFA.com: The road to Istanbul and the final itself must have given you a lot of memories - if you could pick out one moment from that Champions League campaign, what would it be?
Jamie Carragher: For me, it was probably Eidur Gudjohnsen missing the chance in the final minute when we played Chelsea. For a second, my heart was in my mouth. I thought we had thrown everything away that we had worked so hard all season to achieve. When his shot whistled past the post, it was a signal that we were going to the final and, for me, it was the sign that we were going to do it.
For the uninitiated, could you describe what a European night at Anfield is like?
It is something special. We were told about that before we were even playing - we heard stories when we were growing up. As a kid, I heard stories about Inter Milan, St. Etienne - games like that. Now after our own Champions League win we have our own memorable nights to look back on. We have Olimpiacos, Juventus and Chelsea. I think the club has been built on European nights and the supporters rise to the occasion. Personally, I don't think there is a better sight in football than Anfield on a European night. Take for example the Chelsea game. When we warmed up - the noise was deafening. When we came out to 'You'll Never Walk Alone' it was special and John Terry and Frank Lampard agreed. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
To win the Champions League, what qualities does a team need?
You have to be strong defensively, because if you have one poor game defensively - you are out. If you let two goals during one game, it is very difficult to recover from that. I think that we were very rarely behind in the knockout stage, because I think if you go behind in today's game, teams are so well organized, that it is so difficult to get the lead back.
Some people have been saying that Liverpool are not the best team in Europe - despite the Champions League win. It must be a great incentive to win this competition - and prove that you're the best club side in the world?
It would be great. It would be a great accolade, which would also bring great prestige to the club. Taking part in this competition is a great reward for what we did in the Champions League. To have the FIFA Club World Championship on your CV at the end of your career would be great.
It's the only trophy Liverpool have never won - is that going to act as an incentive for the players?
Yes, of course. When you consider the success that Liverpool have had in the past, I find it very surprising that we missed out in 1981 and 1984. Speaking to former players, I know that missing out on winning the TOYOTA Cup is a source of disappointment. The Liverpool team of the 1980s was a fantastic team, so to win a trophy that they didn't on would mean a lot to me.
Do you think excitement about the tournament will increase in the city as the tournament grows closer?
I am really looking forward to it. I can't wait to get over there! If we win it, it will be something I will remember for the rest of my life. I would love to be a world champion for my club and country. There won't be many players that can say 'I've done that.'
Would you consider yourself to be a fan of world football?
Yes definitely. I have followed the TOYOTA Cup and I think this year's changes will make the tournament a lot better. I think the fact that it has winners from every confederation will make it extra special.
Do you know much about the other qualified teams?
We're probably more aware of Sao Paulo than anyone else. I would say that with the exception of ourselves, they are the biggest team in this competition. With us having Premiership games before the tournament, I know that we'll be working hard on our domestic campaign first and foremost, but as soon as the next game is Sydney or Saprissa - our full attention will be directed towards them.
Do you think that Liverpool's past experience in Europe has given you some kind of psychological strength in these type of games?
Hopefully. I think that the other teams will be looking forward to playing us because we are the European Champions - and I would say that the UEFA Champions League is the hardest club trophy to win. Psychologically, I think that will stand us in good stead for this tournament. Perhaps they may be a big frightened of meeting the European Champions. Let's wait and see.