Jamie Carragher screamed at Liverpool player who broke two ribs on debut and had contract cancelled

-Credit: (Image: Michael Regan/Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Rafa Benitez had a thing for signing full-backs during his time as Liverpool manager.

The Spaniard's first recruit after arriving in June 2004 from Valencia was a swoop for compatriot Josemi, who he later swapped for the little-known Jan Kromkamp 18 months later.

He'd spend big on the likes of Andrea Dossena, £8m from Udinese, and Glen Johnson, £17m from Portsmouth, and also seek out bargain deals for Fabio Aurelio, who arrived from Valencia on a free, and Alvaro Arbeloa, a £2.5m recruit from Deportivo La Coruna.

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In total Benitez would bring in eight first team full-backs during his time as Reds boss, and often with mixed success. Indeed, very few of those would find their names going down in history for their exploits at Anfield, but one such full-back might still find his name ringing in the ears of fans who watched him play in person between 2008-2010.

That's because, whenever he made a rare appearance in Liverpool's starting line-up, the word "DEGEN" could be heard echoing around Anfield in a high-pitched wail every time the ball went near him.

It's probably not how Philipp Degen would want to be remembered at Anfield. But then again, little went right for him after he joined the Reds from Dortmund, on this day in 2008.

The Swiss international, who broke through at Basel in his homeland alongside his twin brother David, arrived with a reputation as an modern, attacking full-back who would provide an alternative to the safer duo of Arbeloa and Steve Finnan, although the Irishman would later move to Espanyol on loan.

And, after a recommendation from Didi Hamann, Degen initially backed himself to force his way into Benitez's thinking ahead of Arbeloa. “It was not a difficult decision to come here, even though I know there is a lot of competition for places," he said.

“That suits me - and I am just looking forward to the challenge. I haven’t come here to sit on the bench and I will be working hard in training and in games to show that I am worthy of a place."

But after appearing in pre-season and having suffered from injury at Dortmund, Degen's luck deserted him almost immediately at Anfield as he broke two ribs against Crewe in the League Cup in his full Liverpool debut.

Two months later he returned to action against Spurs in the same competition, only to pick up a foot injury. He didn't play again that season as the Reds finished second.

Degen would enjoy a more productive campaign the following year as Liverpool struggled on the pitch, making as many as 11 appearances.

And it was during that time that the shout of "DEGEN" would become a familiar one for matchgoers. Carragher, Liverpool's vice-captain and the man tasked with leading from the back for the Reds, wasn't one to allow any slacking and Degen, playing alongside him, often got an earful.

At one point both men even saw themselves on the receiving end of red cards as Liverpool crashed to a 3-1 defeat at Fulham.

And later that season, during a victory over Tottenham Hotspur in January, Degen found himself on the receiving end of a verbal volley from Carragher after tumbling to the turf injured in the dying minutes of the game.

A perplexed Carragher told his team-mate in rather explicit terms to get up and get on with it, before adding that there was "nothing wrong with him", before repeating the message to Liverpool's bemused physio. No doubt it was heard by most inside Anfield that night.

For Degen, he insisted it was all an essential learning curve and he put on a brave face when asked about Carragher's instruction.

"Carra has been a big influence, particularly in the last two games at Stoke and against Tottenham," he said. “He shouts at me, he tells me where to stand and what to do. He is very important for us and also for me. Sometimes when you are behind a man, you have a better view of what is going on. This is very good and helps me a lot.

He added: "I am little bit sore! But for me it is almost a new feeling because I have been out so long. My first year here was really sad but I never lost my focus. I just wanted to keep going and help when I could.

“Sometimes there were some very hard tackles but I kept going. I know I can keep improving but I still have to learn about a few things. That’s very important for me if I want to help the team.”

Little good it did him, Degen wouldn't start another game that season, or indeed for Liverpool as his contract was torn up that summer to allow him to join Stuttgart.

And while he might be long forgotten by Liverpool supporters, he did get a measure of revenge on Carragher when back at Basel, where he ended his career, as they knocked the Reds out of the Champions League at Anfield in 2014.

"Thought the night couldn't get any worse but it has, Phillip Degen is now warming up in front of me," Carragher would tweet.

He'd later forge a career as a football agent and claimed that Liverpool were one of several clubs to show interest in Jude Bellingham before he joined Dortmund.

Indeed, the old injuries will long since have healed. Here's hoping Degen's ears have finally stopped ringing, too.