Kenny Dalglish believes Liverpool and its supporters should feel immensely grateful to Jamie Carragher for the service he has given at Anfield.
Carragher announced on this website yesterday that he would leave the club and retire from professional football after 17 seasons at the end of 2012-13.
"Jamie's decision was a surprise to me - because he has just played as well as anyone against Arsenal and Manchester City," Dalglish told the Liverpool Echo.
"But he knows himself better than anybody, and if he thinks it is time to hang up the old boots, that is totally his prerogative. It is always a difficult decision for a footballer - as hard a decision as you can face as a professional.
"It is more difficult because playing is the best part of your career - especially at the level he has played at and is playing at. That makes it so much more difficult to retire. But it's Jamie's shout, his call.
"I'm just surprised. I thought he had a bit left in him yet.
"The fans hold him in such high esteem because they can relate to him.
"Everyone who has played football has had a bad game at some time but he has never once had a bad attitude. The fans will always stand by you if your attitude is correct - and Jamie's has always been spot on. No one could ever doubt that.
"We just have to be grateful that Liverpool has had a servant like Jamie. As a local boy it is always special and Jamie is a local boy who has never once got carried away with it all and who can relate to the supporters.
"That's really important.
"It is not as if he has breezed in and breezed out. He is interested in every one of the Liverpool supporters and has always had a very special affinity with them."
Dalglish managed the 35-year-old during his second reign at Anfield - but also remembers a nine-year-old Carragher joining the club towards the end of his first stint.
After learning the game on the playing fields of Bootle and Liverpool, Carragher would go on to make our No.23 jersey famous during 723 appearances and counting.
Dalglish added: "I was in charge at Anfield the first time Jamie came to the club at nine years of age. I remember him well in those days as a centre-forward - they used to train at Netherton and my own son Paul was there at the time.
"I also remember him scoring on his Anfield debut in 1997, which was obviously a very special moment for him.
"It is always a disappointment when it all comes to an end - he will have wanted to play as long as he can.
"I am not sure if he has any ideas about what he wants to do next but I am sure the door at Liverpool Football Club will always be open to him."