LONDON • In Alex Ferguson's 27 years as manager of Manchester United, it was a rare occasion when he had a compliment for a Liverpool player.
But the 73-year-old Scot has revealed that one of the opposing players he most admired for their work rate was Jamie Carragher.
In his new autobiography Leading, he pays tribute to Tony Adams, Gianfranco Zola and Carragher, the former Reds vice-captain, for "relentless perseverance".
Carragher spent his entire professional career at Anfield, becoming a club legend as a central defender.
"Jamie Carragher trained with United as a youngster," the Scot wrote. "When he was with us, he was a midfielder and a mundane, run-of-the-mill player.
"After he signed for Liverpool, he somehow transformed himself into the heart and soul of the team and its controlling force."
Speaking to Sky Sports on the same theme, Ferguson added: "As opponents, if you take Tony Adams and Jamie Carragher, you would say they weren't the most talented players. They weren't the quickest but they had this inner desire and determination; they were always going to be winners."
All the United teams whom Carragher played against in his 17-year career at Liverpool were managed by Ferguson.
"In my last season, he came on as a substitute in a game that we controlled and I whispered to him, 'Just a wee word, stop kicking our boys,'" Ferguson wrote.
"He responded, 'I'm going to kick every one of them.'"
Carragher is now a pundit with Sky Sports but Ferguson expects him to move into management in the future.
"I have spent some time with him since I retired and have been really impressed," said Ferguson.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes Liverpool's manager at some point in the future but first, he has to decide if he wants to leave the TV studio and get back to a more challenging role in football." THE TIMES, LONDON