One of the longest-serving players of the club, Carragher has made his 500th appearance for Liverpool on 15 January 2008 in all competitions, in the home FA cup fixture against Luton Town. He was made captain for this match. He is now settled in the heart of the defence under Rafael Benitez though previous manager Gérard Houllier preferred to use him as a full-back.
He signed a professional contract in October 1996 and then made his first team début under Roy Evans' management three months later in the second leg of the Coca Cola Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough, coming on as a substitute for Rob Jones. Next came his Premiership debut, again coming on as a substitute, against West Ham. He then started the next game against Aston Villa and marked the occasion with his first goal (a header in front of the Kop) in a 3-0 win to take the side to the top of the table- in a season where the team ultimately finished as 'nearly men' in the title race against Manchester United once again, with a squad including Robbie Fowler, Jamie Redknapp, David James and Steve McManaman, who were often labelled as 'Spice Boys', noted for their off the field lifestyles ahead of their football. Carragher, though a youngster coming through the ranks, was largely unfairly labelled along with the likes of his senior team-mates. By the 1997-98 season, Carragher was a regular in the first-team squad and by the 1998–99 campaign was considered a player of real promise - which led to his first full international cap towards the end of the season.
Throughout his early years he was essentially used as a utility player, spending time as a centre-half, right and left full-back and defensive midfield. Because of this he would be deployed to fill in wherever there was a hole, ultimately harming his ability to hold down a first team position of his own. In 1999–00 he played mainly as a right-back, then in 2000–2001 he made the left-back position his own. By this time Carragher had become a firm fans' favourite for his determination, and "no-nonsense" style of defending. 2001 also saw Carragher gain his first senior trophies: the FA Cup, UEFA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield and European Super Cup.
He hit the headlines in January 2002 during an FA Cup tie against Arsenal. A coin was thrown from the crowd, and Carragher threw it back into the fans. He earned a red card and a disrepute charge from The Football Association. From 2002 till 2004 Carragher was hit by two serious injuries, firstly missing the 2002 FIFA World Cup for an operation on his troublesome knee and later due to a broken leg in the first half of the 2003-04 season due to a tackle by Blackburn's Lucas Neill at Ewood Park in the Reds' fifth game of the season. During this period, Carragher's place in the team was also threatened by signings of Steve Finnan and John Arne Riise. However, he succeeded in retaining his place in the team, making 24 appearances in the first half of 2004.
The 2004–05 season was a career defining one for Carragher. New manager Rafael Benítez moved him to centre-half where he managed 56 appearances alongside Sami Hyypiä. Carragher finally shrugged off the utility tag and established himself as a centre half. Carragher developed a reputation as a strong and positionally astute defender. . His partnership with Hyypia was central in Liverpool's 2004-2005 UEFA Champions League victory. One of the most memorable moments of the match was when Carragher made two vital last ditch intercept into extra time whilst suffering from cramp. Carragher was voted as Liverpool's player of the year at the end of the campaign. He later went on to captain in the team in their 2005 UEFA Super Cup victory when Liverpool won against CSKA Moscow in Monte Carlo.
On 13 May 2006, Carragher played in the FA Cup final against West Ham. It was his tenth final in ten years of club football. In the 21st minute, Carragher rolled the ball into his own net after a strong cross from the Hammers' full-back Lionel Scaloni got caught under his own feet. Despite this Liverpool went on to win 3–1 on penalties after the match finished 3–3 after extra-time.
On 9 December 2006, Carragher scored his first league goal since January 1999, in a match against Fulham at Anfield. His central defence partner Agger flicked the ball on from a corner, and Carragher slid the ball under Fulham keeper Jan Lastuvka at the far post, sparking wild scenes of celebration that displayed the Kop's admiration for the player. The goal was only his fourth in his Liverpool career.
In Liverpool's Champions League semi-final second leg against Chelsea on 1 May 2007, Carragher set a record for the most appearances in European competition for the club. His 90th European match took him past Ian Callaghan's 89 matches between 1964 and 1978. After this match he was also named Man of the Match for his outstanding display despite suffering with cramp. Carragher was voted as Liverpool's Player of the Year for the 2006-07 season by the fans and soon after extended his contract till 2011. That season also saw Carragher's controversial international retirement, with the defender citing frustration with a lack of appearances under Steve McClaren.
The 2007-2008 season saw Carragher reach his 500th appearance for Liverpool, in a season in which he continued to be a first choice defender for the club.
In the 2008-2009 season Carragher scored his fifth goal for the club from a deflected shot against Middlesbrough Carragher currently stands at number 11 in the all time Liverpool appearances table in all competitions.
On 28 April 1999 he made his début for the senior England team, as a substitute against Hungary. He made his full international début against Holland at White Hart Lane in 2001. Carragher missed the 2002 World Cup through injury, but travelled with England to Euro 2004. He eventually ended up with no playing time, losing out to Ledley King when a vacancy opened up. He was selected for the England squad for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and was not in the original starting eleven, but came into the team after Gary Neville suffered an injury.
Carragher's versatility has seen him occupy centre-back, right-back, left-back and defensive midfield positions for England. Despite his many caps and regular squad appearances, he has never held down a consistent place in the starting eleven. Former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson generally used two center -backs from John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell in preference to Carragher, but occasionally used Carragher as right-back as deputy for Gary Neville, as he did during the 2006 World Cup.
On 1 July 2006 Carragher was one of three players to have a penalty saved by Ricardo Pereira, as England yet again succumbed on penalties to exit the 2006 World Cup in the quarter finals against Portugal. Carragher, who had been brought on as a substitute for Aaron Lennon in the dying moments of the game, presumably with the "shoot-out" in mind, was the most unfortunate of the three players who missed, as he scored with his first attempt but was forced to re-take the kick by the referee, who had not blown his whistle. Carragher then saw his second effort saved.
On 9 July 2007 it was reported that Carragher was thinking of retiring from the England set-up. TalkSport Radio Presenter Adrian Durham accused Carragher of "bottling it" and was asked by one caller if he would say that to Carragher's face. Durham told the caller that he was about to find out as Jamie Carragher was by this point on the line waiting. He then confirmed that he was thinking about leaving the national set-up but he had already had two talks with the England head coach Steve McClaren and would leave it until the upcoming match against Germany to decide.
Carragher did subsequently retire from International football. England former head coach Steve McClaren attempted to persuade him to return to the International setup on at least one occasion, whilst McClaren's replacement Fabio Capello has reportedly suggested that he would be happy to consider Carragher. Carragher's responses have suggested that he would not respond positively to any offers of a call-up. Carragher was said to have been unhappy at the failure of successive England managers to pick him at centre-back, preferring to use him as cover along the back four and even as a holding midfielder.
In 2005, Carragher starred in an anti-bullying music video for Liverpool band Just 3, entitled Stand Tall. The video was directed by Samantha Janus, and was heavily backed by Childline ambassador Esther Rantzen.
In July 2005, he married his childhood sweetheart, Nicola Hart, with whom he has two children, James and Mia.
Carragher also owns a restaurant in Liverpool called "Cafe Sport England Restaurant". It has over 200 Plasma TVs on the walls and only two things are shown on all of these TVs at once - football and rugby union.
In September, 2008, Carragher's biography was released with controversial excerpts being leaked to the press beforehand. In one instance, Carragher claimed that his close friends were looking to assault fellow Premiership player Lucas Neill but that the incident was averted only because Neill was in the company of David Thompson, one of Carragher's former teammates, who Carragher did not want to "become a witness to an assault". Carragher sent a text to Thompson "telling him Neill should give him a hug of thanks", suggesting had Thompson not been there, Neill would have faced an assault. In another portion of his biography, Carragher claimed he launched a deliberate hard tackle in a practice session against Liverpool teammate Rigobert Song because of the latter's perceived mockery of Carragher's defending. In another excerpt, Carragher asserts that his brothers have trouble finding employment in the city of Liverpool because of the number of foreign immigrants working in England, prompting claims of xenophobia.
Though he has not received a call-up for the England national team since the reign of manager Steve McClaren, Carragher also claimed he took solace from international defeats with England because he was less concerned about results for his national side than for Liverpool FC.
Team honours with England