Salmon’s Soapbox: Carragher’s character forever tainted

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has been suspended from his job as a football pundit at Sky Sports for the rest of the season
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has been suspended from his job as a football pundit at Sky Sports for the rest of the season

Whenever I think of legendary former Dutch footballer Frank Rijkaard one infamous and unsavoury incident immediately springs to mind.

It’s a shame that despite being one of the greatest footballers of his generation, not to mention his successful transition to becoming a top-level manager, I can never quite get the image of the midfielder twice running past German striker Rudi Voeller and spitting in his hair during the Italia ’90 World Cup.

A video of the revolting incident is easily accessible on the internet and in between tales of him conquering Europe for both club and country, there is an entire section devoted to the sorry episode on his own Wikipedia page.

As disgusting acts go, spitting at somebody is right up there as one of the most vile things a human being can do.

It’s maybe nearly 30 years since Rijkaard’s moment of madness in the San Siro, but it is, unfortunately for him, something that he will always be remembered for.

And I imagine the same fate will befall Jamie Carragher after the former Liverpool defender was filmed leaning out of his car and spitting in the direction of another car – and apparently hitting a 14-year-old female passenger.

The fact that the driver of the other vehicle was goading Carragher about his former club’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United at the weekend was mitigation but certainly no excuse for his actions.

Watching the footage certainly makes for uncomfortable viewing, especially as Carragher is somebody you would have imagined to be the last person to react in such a way despite the provocation. A fine player who represented England on 38 occasions during his career, Carragher seemingly built a reputation as a model professional both on and off the pitch.

Ultra-dedicated, a natural leader, a one-club man, Carragher appeared to me to be a player who left no stone unturned in his quest to make the most of his ability.

And you would imagine over the course of his long career, he would have received taunts from opposing fans every other week.

Since retiring from playing in 2013, he has effortlessly moved into football punditry and is widely regarded as one of the most respected voices in the game due to his work with Sky Sports.

However, his job is on the line after he was suspended by Sky for the rest of the season.

Carragher has apologised and judging by the number of contrite interviews he has done this week, I think it would be a shame if one ‘moment of madness’ was to wreck his future.

Hopefully, the former Champions League winner will be able to rebuild his career – even if his name, like Rijkaard’s, will now always be synonymous with the repulsive act which is spitting.