On his previous Bebo account – which actually hasn’t aged nicely – Jordan Henderson revealed he wished FA Cup glory along with his boyhood membership Sunderland by the age of 30.
On June 17 this yr he reached that age and, whereas Sunderland have sadly declined, the midfielder has achieved success past his wildest desires 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 yr, Henderson joined Liverpool from his beloved Black Cats for £20million.
Issues didn’t get off to a terrific begin and he was near leaving Anfield only a yr after signing.
However quick ahead 9 years and he’s now one of many Premier League’s prime gamers and has performed an integral function in Liverpool’s first league title in three a long time.
Whereas his improvement into Liverpool’s excellent chief has stunned some, Darren Bent solely instructed talkSPORT.com his former Sunderland teammate was at all times decided to achieve the head of the sport.
“I used to have conversations with him and used to ask him about what his aspirations have been and he at all times stated he wished to play on the prime,” stated Bent.
“However he by no means took his eyes off issues at Sunderland.”
To say Henderson initially struggled at Liverpool could be an understatement.
The 2011/12 season was a poor one for the Reds although they gained the League Cup and made it to the FA Cup remaining, as an eighth place league end noticed them transfer backwards of their pursuit of Champions League qualification.
Followers have been understandably pissed off with the course their membership was going, some turning on Henderson by questioning what his objective within the crew was.
Sir Alex Ferguson, essentially the most profitable supervisor within the historical past of English soccer, even advised Henderson would by no means make it on the highest stage as a result of approach he ran.
In his 2013 autobiography, Sir Alex wrote: “We checked out Jordan Henderson rather a lot and Steve Bruce [Sunderland’s manager at the time] was unfailingly passionate about him.
“In opposition to that we observed that Henderson runs from his knees, with a straight again, whereas the fashionable 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 ranking 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 successful 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 reasonably highly effective squad and at instances it was a bit a lot for him.
“However he definitely had the precise mentality when it comes to how arduous he was prepared to work.
“It may need helped him to maneuver as he would have performed and acquired extra confidence however fortunately he stayed. Honest play to him as a result of a number of gamers would have left.”
Henderson would stay a bit-part participant earlier than battling his approach again into the aspect 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 function enjoying as a no.8.
Johnson additionally revealed that it was Henderson’s desperation to do nicely 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 wished it a lot that he would simply attempt to attempt to strive however generally that may ship you over the sting.
“There have been easy issues like when he performed within the holding function a defender would go him the ball, however he’d have a giant contact again to be protected and when he’d flip and face the play he’s within the place of a centre-half.
“He was so desperate 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 light as Henderson established himself as a key participant within the 2013/14 season which noticed Liverpool very almost win the league.
He was then named vice-captain following Daniel Agger’s departure and would turn out to be prime canine quickly after as membership legend Steven Gerrard left to hitch LA Galaxy in 2015.
They have been massive footwear to fill however Bent believes Henderson had the makings to be an excellent captain, albeit not within the standard sense of barking orders to his troops.
“I noticed Jordan as a frontrunner of individuals; he wasn’t actually a screamer however led by instance as an alternative,” Bent added.
“When he was at Sunderland he at all times labored actually arduous and shut individuals down so it was fairly infectious. When he began chasing I used to assume ‘let me get after the opposition as nicely.’”
Nonetheless, 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 may silence the doubters as this Liverpool aspect have been making a behavior of falling brief in massive matches underneath Henderson’s captaincy – dropping the League Cup and Europa League finals in 2016, whereas additionally being crushed within the 2018 Champions League remaining.
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, nonetheless.
Liverpool recruited nicely in the precise areas together with the signing of out-and-out defensive midfielder Fabinho, which modified Henderson’s function within the crew for the higher.
Henderson was now not tasked with enjoying the holding function as soon as Fabinho was settled in. The England midfielder moved to a extra superior no.Eight function that may 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 Metropolis.
Henderson acquired on the scoresheet as Liverpool gained 3-1 at St Mary’s.
This helped remodel Liverpool right into a prime crew however they fell brief as soon as extra regardless of amassing 97 factors within the Premier League final time period, Metropolis pipping them to the title with 98.
However lastly, a reward for all of Liverpool and Henderson’s arduous work got here a couple of weeks after the league season completed because the Reds have been topped champions of Europe.
Liverpool’s win over Tottenham within the European Cup remaining adopted a dramatic semi-final by which they beat Barcelona 4-Zero to overturn a three-goal deficit within the biggest evening Anfield has ever seen. Henderson was the very best participant on the pitch.
And as he lifted the enduring trophy in a baking scorching Madrid, you possibly can see the reduction (and sweat) pour out of Henderson, who then had an emotional celebration along with his father, Brian.
The celebration was made all of the extra poignant by the very fact his dad was identified 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 most important driving power to their success – and few would argue towards 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 for my part, with what he has finished and the way he has pushed our crew to success.”
In some ways, Henderson’s development has been equivalent 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 tough days through the years, however check out what Henderson and Liverpool have turn out to be after virtually a decade of spirit and arduous graft.