Liverpool chairman Tom Werner has told the Liverpool Echo he wanted Jamie Carragher to play on for another season and insists there will always be a role for the centre-back at Anfield.
Carragher will play the 737th and final game of his 16-year first-team career at the club when he faces Queens Park Rangers in the final Premier League game of the season on Sunday.
The 35-year-old, who has been with Liverpool since he was nine and who made his senior debut in January 1997, is retiring to become a television pundit.
Werner called Carragher "a man of remarkable integrity", and believes that he could have played on for another year.
"We hoped he would play on for another season but we fully respect his decision to retire," the Boston-based chairman told the paper. "He wants to leave the party before the last call and I understand that.
"I have nothing but admiration for him – both on and off the field.
"It's a big challenge to try to replace him. He's a unique individual and I think finding another player just like him will be impossible.
"We wish Jamie well in his new career and the door will always be open for him at Liverpool.
"I really hope we see him back at the club one day because with all that experience and knowledge we know he has so much to offer.
"Whether it's as a coach, an analyst or whatever, there will always be a job for him here."
Only Ian Callaghan, who played 857 times for the club between 1960 and 1978, has made more appearances for Liverpool than Carragher.
Werner praised the defender's loyalty, and acknowledged that he will be difficult to replace.
"To spend 16 years in the first team at Liverpool is testament to Jamie's professionalism," he said.
"He really is an extraordinary person and a man of remarkable integrity.
"His love for the club is such that he has always put Liverpool first. In moments of adversity he's been there, lifting players around him.
"He gives everything and suffers for the team."