JAMIE CARRAGHER today explained his shock decision to reverse his international retirement – a u-turn which saw him plunged straight in to England’s World Cup squad yesterday.
Carragher blamed Liverpool’s appalling season, arguing: “Look, I’m not getting any younger, we’ve got no Champions League football here next season - so why not?”
The 32-year-old quit with some force while former England boss Steve McClaren was in charge three years ago, having earned 35 caps. He found himself down the pecking order behind John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Matthew Upson, all three of whom were included in Fabio Capello’s 30-man provisional squad yesterday.
In his autobiography released a year later he said: “If I loved playing for my country as much as my club, perhaps the thought of retirement would never have occurred to me. That it did shows me I made the right call. I wasn’t giving up my football career or my ambitions. Only England.”
Essentially little has changed – other than Liverpool’s complete lack of form which saw them finish seventh in the Premier League after making an early exit from the Champions League group stages.
He added: "The FA got in touch a few weeks ago and asked if I would have a rethink due to injury problems. I said I would make myself available.
"The World Cup and Champions League are the top levels of football. I'm keen to work under Capello."
Capello himself said: “We started (talking to Carragher) two months ago. We spoke with him. My assistant Franco Baldini met him two weeks ago and he was happy to stay with us. We decided to select him. I selected him because he is a really, really good player.
“Jamie is one of the 30 players,” said the Italian. “During the training camp I will evaluate the performance of each player.”
Carragher will meet up with the squad – including team-mates Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson – for a high-altitude training camp in Austria next week. Capello has to trim his squad to 23 for June 1, probably choosing five from Carragher, Spurs pair Ledley King and Michael Dawson, captain Rio Ferdinand, former captain John Terry and West Ham’s out-of-form Upson.
Neither Manchester United’s injured Wes Brown nor Everton’s fit again Phil Jagielka made the squad – creating some controversy in England given Carragher’s forthright views on his retirement three years ago. The question has to be: If England didn’t matter three years ago, exactly what’s changed Jamie?