Michael Carrick has admitted that he felt that he could continue to play on for Manchester United, despite his impending retirement from football.
The 38-year-old will hang up his boots for the final time in May after he announced that he was bringing his professional career to an end - although a coaching role within United's backroom team will keep him at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future.
Carrick spoke in-depth to the Times as he reflected on his career, talked up his charitable foundation and explained why he felt it was the right time to call it quits with regards to playing.
Fantastic to be working with @carras16 this evening to launch the Carrick Street Reds project in Old Trafford. Thanks to the @_MCFoundation the grassroots football session has been fully funded for the next three seasons. pic.twitter.com/FerMy6cfGT— Man Utd Foundation (@MU_Foundation) April 13, 2018
Surprisingly, the well spoken midfielder stated that he felt that he could give more on the pitch before opting to call it a day, but explained why it wouldn't be fair on his teammates to do so.
Carrick said: “I could play on. I’d be fit enough. I wouldn’t be playing as well as I’ve played, so that’s what tells me that it’s time.
“I’ve had loads of people saying, ‘Keep playing.’ Even after the Huddersfield game, ‘Definitely keep playing.’ I was actually all right after that.
“It’s just during it. It’s reactions, the physical stuff. It’s not fair for the other lads to accommodate me in the team. You’re playing for Manchester United. I shouldn’t be playing just because I’ve been there a few years. You have to deserve it.
“As time’s gone, you get left behind basically, drifting away a little bit. The key for me was when I was out with my heart, and then coming back from my calf, there was an acceptance then that ‘this is time’. It is the end.”
Carrick has enjoyed a glittering career with United - racking up 18 winners' medals including five Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League.
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Despite bringing his time on the field to an end, however, Carrick will now help bring through the next batch of talented Red Devil starlets under Mourinho's guidance, and he stated that it was a 'no brainer' to take up the Portuguese's offer to do so.
He said: “I didn’t even have to think about it, working with José. I’m genuinely looking around and thinking not many lads would get that opportunity so quick.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity to learn off someone like José who’s been everywhere and won everywhere. He’s got something very special. He’s a winner. You can see that drive in him to succeed. He’s able to assess games quickly, at half-time, and he gets how the game’s going. It’s all about winning with José, which shines through.”