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McAuley hails retiring Carragher

8 February 2013 15:58

Former Liverpool youth coach Hugh McAuley has hailed Jamie Carragher, after the defender announced this season would be his last.

The 35-year-old, who made his Reds debut as a teenager more than 17 years ago, announced on Thursday that he will leave the Merseyside club upon the expiry of his contract at season's end.

And McAuley, who oversaw the club's youth teams between 1990 and 2009 - including the victorious FA Youth Cup squad of 1996 which included Carragher - insisted the centre-back's strong character was clear from day one.

"When he turned up for his first training session, there was a feeling he was very enthusiastic, always very vocal," the 60-year-old told Goal.com.

"Even as a nine-year-old, he was bossing people around, talking to them and organising things, up and down the field as a youngster in the coaching sessions and straight away he grabbed your attention because you saw his enthusiasm and love of the game.

"Jamie's the sort of lad who goes to training every day and (into) every match with the same attitude - he gives 100 percent and any slight problem, any slight injury, for him it's always a challenge.

"It's a new target that he's got to get to and he quickly moves on, gets on with it, gets himself fit, gets himself playing and put him back in contention for places, and that's what he did as a younger player.

"When he was breaking into the first team, he was always there or thereabouts and eventually from an experienced point of view, having had some games, and then he makes the place his own.

"His enthusiasm and big heart that he had, and obviously his natural ability, were attributes that he had and people could see from a young age."

McCauley said Carragher would be worthy of gracing any of Liverpool's much-vaunted teams of the past.

"I think Jamie fits into any Liverpool team, any Liverpool era because he's one of the greats," he said.

"He's a local lad who's gone right through the same as Phil Thompson, Ian Callaghan, Steven Gerrard, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen. They've all gone through and done exceptionally well so people take the local ones on board very quickly because they want to be like them."

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