Jordan Henderson is set to become the first Liverpool captain to lift the Premier League title. The Englishman has had a difficult career and yet finds himself amongst the most popular predictions for the Premier League’s Player of the Year. Henderson has been in fine form all season, arguably producing the best football of his career for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Jordan Henderson and His Journey to the Top
Henderson’s time at Anfield got off to a rocky start. He was signed by Kenny Dalglish from Sunderland, though was never universally popular with supporters. Following Dalglish’s sacking, his successor Brendan Rodgers offered Henderson to Fulham as part of a swap deal for Clint Dempsey. Henderson, however, refused. He vowed to stay and fight for his place at Anfield. Lesser characters would have taken the easy route, but Jordan Henderson is a fighter. He earned his place in Brendan Rodgers’ starting eleven, keeping out the manager’s favoured son Joe Allen. The Englishman was pivotal for the Reds during the title charge of the 2013/14 season. Some argue that it was his red card against Manchester City which cost his team the title, such was the importance of his energy levels and pressing to Brendan Rodgers’ side.
The former Sunderland player was made Liverpool’s vice-captain the following season, after Daniel Agger returned to Brondby. He would later become captain of the club once Steven Gerrard departed for America. It is telling of his leadership qualities that Jurgen Klopp elected to keep him as captain, despite signing players who may seem more naturally suited to the armband such as Virgil van Dijk.
His managers have always kept faith in him, trusting him with important roles. Brendan Rodgers, Gareth Southgate, Roy Hodgson and Jurgen Klopp have all trusted the Englishman to perform crucial roles for their Liverpool and England sides. They have done so despite criticism from elsewhere. Sir Alex Ferguson famously criticised Henderson’s “gait,” while England fans have often called for him to be dropped for another midfielder. Even at Liverpool, supporters have often called for him to be dropped for flashier players such as Naby Keita or Fabinho, until this season.
Henderson is also a player who will put the team first. Having become accustomed to playing in a more advanced position for Brendan Rodgers, during the early years of Jurgen Klopp’s tenure at Anfield he was asked to perform the role of a no. 6. He did this without complaint, giving his all in every game. It wasn’t until Fabinho had adapted to the Liverpool side that Henderson started a conversation with Klopp about returning to his more favoured position. It is a testament to Henderson’s selflessness that he put the team’s interests ahead of his own.
He has been richly rewarded recently. At the end of last season, he captained Liverpool to Champions League glory in Madrid having missed out in Kiev the season before. The skipper was seen in an emotional embrace with his father, who is battling cancer, after the full-time whistle. This made him one of only five men to captain Liverpool to European glory. He also captained the side to a European Super Cup as well as the club’s first ever Club World Cup trophy. Come the end of the season, he will almost certainly be the first man to captain Liverpool to the Premier League title. All this is without mentioning that he was awarded England’s Player of the Year.
Henderson has not had the easiest of careers, and no player in Jurgen Klopp’s squad deserves their current success more. So, here’s to you, Jordan Henderson. Jurgen loves you more than you can know.
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