Scott Carson: A humble man loved among the stars
Football is slowly losing the true characters and spirit of the game, but in a vast array of egos in the Premier League, gems such as Scott Carson still emerge.
Modest, warm and experienced, Carson's effect on the atmosphere in the all-conquering Manchester City dressing room cannot be understated.
In fact, the special bond shown between Carson and the rest of the City squad is somewhat amusing, with these multi-millionaire superstars’ adoration for the goalkeeper from Cumbria truly heartwarming. It is a simple reminder that these football machines are human.
It takes a lot of mental strength to consistently compete for the quadruple like Manchester City have done under Pep Guardiola. At their lowest points, humour and reconciliation are needed to pick up the mood of the squad.
Carson can bring a smile to the faces of these younger, incredibly talented footballers, who at times seem to have the weight of the world on their shoulders, with the burden of expectation.
Born in the Whitehaven and brought up in Cleator Moor, Carson has impressively retained his kind, warmhearted and friendly Cumbrian spirit, despite his time spent with England's elite.
Rugby League is West Cumbria's most loved sport, and Carson excelled at a young age, but football always came first, making his debut for the Cleator Moor men's team at the age of 15.
He joined Leeds United from Workington's youth team in 2003 and quickly rose through the ranks at Elland Road, making his debut against Middlesbrough in 2004.
Carson jumped ship to Liverpool in January 2005 and picked up Champions League and UEFA Super Cup honours while with the Anfield-based side.
The Cumbrian stopper's game time was limited with Liverpool, and he undertook three separate loan spells with Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa to get game time.
Carson impressed at the Valley, making 38 appearances and winning Charlton's Player of the Year award despite the club's relegation.
Another impressive loan spell at Aston Villa saw Carson make his England debut against Austria in November 2007 and kept a clean sheet.
After three spells and only nine appearances for Liverpool, Carson finally moved on permanently to West Bromwich Albion. He went on play 118 times for the Baggies and captained them to promotion from the Championship in the 2009/10 season.
Carson made a surprising move to Bursaspor in 2011 and spent two years in Bursa, winning his fourth and final England cap while at the Turkish outfit.
Wigan Athletic enticed the Cumbrian keeper back to England in 2013, and he made 59 appearances for the Latics before moving on to Derby County in 2016.
After 171 appearances for the Rams, Carson made the eyebrow-raising move to Pep Guardiola's Manchester City. It was certainly an unexpected deadline day move by the side who had just won an unprecedented quadruple, initially on loan before joining permanently this summer.
Carson role was to act as an emergency third-choice option as well as acting as a mentor to the goalkeepers coming through the academy.
An unusual bond has grown between Carson and the rest of the squad, with Ederson, in particular, becoming attached to the veteran.
Carson and Ederson are two very unlikely people to become friends. Ederson has limited English, while Carson speaks in a broad Cumbrian accent, but they have been brought together by their love of goalkeeping.
Ederson admits that it is Carson with whom he speaks the most and feels he has learnt a lot from the Cumbrian. The Brazilian keeper mentioned Carson's humility and personality, which makes the veteran so special.
These kind words from members of the squad mean so much to Carson: he even admitted that being known as a good guy to have around the building means as much as being noted as a good keeper.
After City's Champions League quarter-final success over Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park, the players immediately Facetimed their third-choice keeper, chanting "Carson" repeatedly as he watched on from his living room sofa. It shows how loved Carson is by the squad.
As recently confirmed Premier League champions travelled to Newcastle, there was a surprise on the teamsheet, with Carson named in the starting line-up.
It was Carson's first top-flight appearance for 3645 days.
The former England international kept out Joe Willock's second-half penalty, only for the Arsenal loanee to score on the rebound, but City still won the game thanks to a Ferran Torres hat-trick.
In the dressing room after the match, Carson had this to say:
"What a pleasure to play for you, but you could've got me a clean sheet today. Any chance?"
Despite conceding three goals, Carson's humour and humility still shone through. He is an example to everyone that a supporting role is just as important as a starring role.
Written by Ben Pitkeathly/@Ben_Pitkeathly2