On his outdated Bebo account – which actually hasn’t aged properly – Jordan Henderson revealed he needed FA Cup glory together with his boyhood membership Sunderland by the age of 30.
On June 17 this 12 months he reached that age and, whereas Sunderland have sadly declined, the midfielder has achieved success past his wildest goals with Liverpool.
Having captained the Merseyside membership to Champions League glory in 2019, he can now add a Premier League winners’ medal to his assortment and is now Footballer of the Yr, too.
Simply shy of his 21st 12 months, Henderson joined Liverpool from his beloved Black Cats for £20million.
Issues didn’t get off to a fantastic begin and he was near leaving Anfield only a 12 months after signing.
However quick ahead 9 years and he’s now one of many Premier League’s high gamers and has performed an integral position in Liverpool’s first league title in three a long time.
Whereas his improvement into Liverpool’s excellent chief has shocked some, Darren Bent solely advised talkSPORT.com his former Sunderland teammate was all the time decided to achieve the head of the sport.
“I used to have conversations with him and used to ask him about what his aspirations had been and he all the time stated he needed to play on the high,” stated Bent.
“However he by no means took his eyes off issues at Sunderland.”
To say Henderson initially struggled at Liverpool can be an understatement.
The 2011/12 season was a poor one for the Reds regardless that they gained the League Cup and made it to the FA Cup ultimate, as an eighth place league end noticed them transfer backwards of their pursuit of Champions League qualification.
Followers had been understandably annoyed with the course their membership was going, some turning on Henderson by questioning what his objective within the workforce was.
Sir Alex Ferguson, essentially the most profitable supervisor within the historical past of English soccer, even steered Henderson would by no means make it on the highest stage as a result of method he ran.
In his 2013 autobiography, Sir Alex wrote: “We checked out Jordan Henderson quite a bit and Steve Bruce [Sunderland’s manager at the time] was unfailingly obsessed with him.
“Towards that we observed that Henderson runs from his knees, with a straight again, whereas the trendy footballer runs from his hips. We thought his gait would possibly trigger him issues later in his profession.”
Sir Kenny Dalglish, the supervisor who signed him, was sacked and new supervisor Brendan Rodgers got here in seemingly not score Henderson.
Liverpool tried to promote their younger midfielder to Fulham however Henderson was having none of it and stayed on.
Henderson’s dedication to being a hit was by no means a problem although as his former Reds teammate Glen Johnson explains.
“He struggled within the early days,” started Johnson. “He was a younger child who walked into a fairly highly effective squad and at occasions it was a bit a lot for him.
“However he actually had the correct mentality when it comes to how laborious he was keen to work.
“It may need helped him to maneuver as he would have performed and acquired extra confidence however fortunately he stayed. Truthful play to him as a result of plenty of gamers would have left.”
Henderson would stay a bit-part participant earlier than battling his method again into the facet within the second half of the 2012/13 season, initially enjoying on the left of Rodgers’ midfield diamond – one of many many positions he’s performed in a Liverpool shirt together with proper of the diamond, defensive midfield, right-back, right-wing again, centre-back, and his most up-to-date position enjoying as a no.8.
Johnson additionally revealed that it was Henderson’s desperation to do properly which led to him struggling for type in his early days at Liverpool.
“I used to talk to him one-on-one about issues,” he continued. “He needed it a lot that he would simply try to try to strive however generally that may ship you over the sting.
“There have been easy issues like when he performed within the holding position a defender would go him the ball, however he’d have an enormous contact again to be secure and when he’d flip and face the play he’s within the place of a centre-half.
“He was so desirous to get on the ball but when he simply relaxed and waited for the ball to return to him he receives it 30 yards up the pitch.
“It’s foolish issues like that however that’s simply studying the sport.”
The criticism pale as Henderson established himself as a key participant within the 2013/14 season which noticed Liverpool very practically win the league.
He was then named vice-captain following Daniel Agger’s departure and would turn out to be high canine quickly after as membership legend Steven Gerrard left to affix LA Galaxy in 2015.
They had been large sneakers to fill however Bent believes Henderson had the makings to be a great captain, albeit not within the typical sense of barking orders to his troops.
“I noticed Jordan as a pacesetter of individuals; he wasn’t actually a screamer however led by instance as an alternative,” Bent added.
“When he was at Sunderland he all the time labored actually laborious and shut individuals down so it was fairly infectious. When he began chasing I used to suppose ‘let me get after the opposition as properly.’”
Nevertheless, all that criticism Henderson confronted within the early days at Anfield got here again.
Not even Jurgen Klopp’s arrival and insistence that Henderson has ‘the toughest job in soccer’ in changing Gerrard as captain might silence the doubters as this Liverpool facet had been making a behavior of falling quick in large matches underneath Henderson’s captaincy – shedding the League Cup and Europa League finals in 2016, whereas additionally being crushed within the 2018 Champions League ultimate.
There have been fears Henderson would turn out to be the primary Liverpool captain in residing reminiscence to not win a trophy; he may have undoubtedly felt inferior in comparison with a number of the nice skippers the membership has had.
That modified in 2018/19, nevertheless.
Liverpool recruited properly in the correct areas together with the signing of out-and-out defensive midfielder Fabinho, which modified Henderson’s position within the workforce for the higher.
Henderson was now not tasked with enjoying the holding position as soon as Fabinho was settled in. The England midfielder moved to a extra superior no.Eight position that might see him go box-to-box and have rather more of an impact on matches – essentially the most notable one seeing him assist Liverpool get previous Southampton as they continued to place the stress on Man City.
Henderson acquired on the scoresheet as Liverpool gained 3-1 at St Mary’s.
This helped remodel Liverpool right into a high workforce however they fell quick as soon as extra regardless of amassing 97 factors within the Premier League final time period, City pipping them to the title with 98.
However lastly, a reward for all of Liverpool and Henderson’s laborious work got here a couple of weeks after the league season completed because the Reds had been topped champions of Europe.
Liverpool’s win over Tottenham within the European Cup ultimate adopted a dramatic semi-final during which they beat Barcelona 4-Zero to overturn a three-goal deficit within the best night time Anfield has ever seen. Henderson was the most effective participant on the pitch.
And as he lifted the enduring trophy in a baking scorching Madrid, you could possibly see the aid (and sweat) pour out of Henderson, who then had an emotional celebration together with his father, Brian.
The celebration was made all of the extra poignant by the very fact his dad was recognized with throat most cancers in 2013.
Now having turn out to be the primary Liverpool captain in 30 years to win the title, the Henderson haters are gone.
Based on teammate Andrew Robertson, he has been the largest driving pressure to their success – and few would argue in opposition to that time.
“He represents us all,” stated the Scot of his teammate.
“He’s so constant, he drives us on in coaching each single day.
“The man has been unbelievable this season. He deserves Participant of the Yr in my view, with what he has carried out and the way he has pushed our workforce to success.”
In some ways, Henderson’s development has been an identical to that of Liverpool’s.
He was removed from the completed article when he arrived and there have been a couple of false dawns and difficult days through the years, however check out what Henderson and Liverpool have turn out to be after nearly a decade of spirit and laborious graft.