The midfielder finished off a remarkable career for club and country last night but did he reach his full potential?
Back in the summer of ’92, what seems like an age ago, a young 12-year-old centre-forward was drafted into the Burnside High School team, nobody gave it too much thought. Today, 26 years down the line, the football world unites to thank Michael Carrick for all the ways in which he has served the sport.
The boyhood Newcastle United fan left Tyneside in 1997 to kick-start his career in the big leagues by joining the West Ham United academy. It was here that the centre-forward was transformed into the midfielder that oozes class and composure that we know today. During his time in the academy, Carrick would work alongside some of the best coaching staff who had discovered the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Lampard.
It was in 1999 that the West Ham youth team, that could boast of the likes of Carrick and Chelsea legend Joe Cole in its ranks, would lift the FA youth cup, with Carrick finding the net twice in the final. A call-up to the senior team was not far behind.
Carrick has been one of the pillars of Manchester United’s midfield for some time
Carrick would make his league debut by replacing his future Manchester United teammate, Rio Ferdinand in a 3-0 victory over Bradford City. The youngster would struggle in his first months of career due to injuries and was shipped off on short loan spells at Swindon Town and Birmingham City. The midfielder would soon return to Upton Park and put in good performances with such consistency that he was named West Ham’s Young Player of the year in his first season.
Michael Carrick would go on to make 136 league appearances with the Hammers over the course of five years, earning numerous personal accolades. He would go through a whole spectrum of experiences over his West Ham career including relegation to the First Division.
To his credit, Carrick refused to jump ship when the London club were relegated and instead chose to stay and push for their promotion. However, after a year out of the Premiership, Carrick admitted that First Division football was not to his liking and started listening to the approaches of the Premier League clubs.
In 2004, Carrick would sign for another London club in Tottenham Hotspur for a reported fee of £3.5 million. He struggled initially at Spurs, with the erstwhile manager Jacques Santini consistently overlooking the midfielder.
However, when Martin Jol took over at the Lane, Carrick would become a mainstay in the Tottenham team registering the joint most assists in the division during the 2005-06 season. This caught the eye of a certain club in the Northwest of England looking to replace their departing talismanic midfielder.
Manchester United succeeded with a bid of around £14 million to lure the midfielder to Manchester where he would become the maestro that we have had the pleasure of watching. Carrick would spend a lot of his Manchester United career and indeed his footballing career as a whole, under the shadow of bigger names like those of Scholes and Ronaldo, but he never let this affect his performances.
Every performance he put in for the club would be carefully measured and collect as was his nature. By the end of his first season at the club, he had won the first major title of his career, the Premier League title, a feat which he repeated in his second season.
Carrick was the last standing member of Manchester United’s 2007-08 UCL winning side
21st May 2008, a date that is fondly remembered by Manchester United fans all over the world, and one that Carrick describes as the best of his career. United beat Chelsea in the final of the Champions League at Moscow, to lift his first European title. Over his career, Carrick would operate as the perfect utility man, being able to do a job in both midfield and in defence, a trait greatly treasured by all three of his United managers.
Carrick would go on to win every domestic and European honour available to him during his 12-year stint joining teammate Wayne Rooney in being the only English player to do so, making him one of the few people who can say, with his head held high, “Football? I’ve won it.”.
Michael Carrick walked onto the sacred Old Trafford grass for the last time on Sunday and delivered a masterful performance just as we have come to expect from the veteran midfielder. Football will never see another Michael Carrick and as he walked off the pitch looking up to the crowds, a tinge of emotion cracking through on the most collected of demeanours, 75,000 fans in the grand old stadium and many more around the world rose to honour this true legend of football. He will forever be sown into the fabric of Manchester United and we will never cease to sing,”It’s Carrick, ya’ know”. Football thanks you for the memories.