By Jamie Carragher
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Extra info for Carra: My Autobiography
Nobody epitomizes these qualities more than Carra. I'll bet while Carra was scoring goals, picturing himself celebrating in front of the Gladwys Street end, somewhere at Everton's training ground there were young lads in Liverpool kits pretending to be Ian Rush. It wasn't just Carra's provocative choice of kit that made him stand out. He was a prolific goalscorer in his age group, and my youth scouts were telling me they had high hopes he'd progress through our ranks. As I've seen his career develop since, winning so many honours at Anfield and breaking modern appearance records, it's given me immense pride to see that the work of people like me and my staff at youth level at the time – Steve Heighway, Hugh McAuley and Frank Skelly – helped such world-class players emerge.
Liverpool's Far East summer tour was enhancing the same expectations we'd both grown accustomed to across the previous decade – Jamie as a player and me as a Kop season ticket holder and LFC newspaper correspondent. As Jamie handed me his notes, mapping the journey he'd take through his memories, he left suitable gaps for the successes in the months to come. A year in the writing, Carra was intended to conclude triumphantly in May 2008 with Liverpool's elusive nineteenth League title or sixth Champions League win.
After it was shut down, critics argued it was too elitist, focusing too much on a select group to the cost of others. This doesn't make sense to me. The fact I could go from a Bootle Sunday League side to Lilleshall proved how fair the scouting system was, while even those who didn't get in didn't necessarily suffer from having to stay with their clubs. What Lilleshall guaranteed was that the most highly rated youngsters in the country were given every chance to progress, and if any of those went on to represent England, as I did, it was a success.