The Champions League win had a great impact on several Liverpool players but one stands out – Jordan Henderson.
Go back one year and you’ll see a player who people didn’t regard very highly. In fact, he was something of a joke or frustration to many.
Why is he in the England squad? What does he even bring to the team? How can a player who does so little captain a side like Liverpool?
A lot of the criticism is because he had the impossible task of following Steven Gerrard. Most midfielders on the planet wouldn’t hold up to those standards – let alone Henderson.
Because Henderson always had one ‘problem’ – he can play out of position. The Liverpool captain played the holding role in midfield for years until Fabinho arrived and it didn’t suit him all that well.
It held his mobility back, limited his freedom, and just didn’t suit him. The ‘problem’ was that he would sacrifice himself for the team, and so Jurgen Klopp went with Henderson as he didn’t have a natural.
Although, it should be said, Liverpool did reach a Champions League final with him there.
Still, the more advanced role he’s played since Fabinho settled suits him perfectly. It helped deliver the Champions League trophy, too, and that has pushed Henderson’s reputation through the stratosphere.
Suddenly, UEFA put him on the shortlist for midfielder of the year. He’s getting praise from other managers for standing out. There is next to no doubt that he should start for England and he’s recognised as a key player for Liverpool.
Gerrard himself said the Champions League win would change life for Henderson and we’re seeing the impact now. He’s one of the key players for Liverpool & England – and has been for a while. Delivering the big one finally proved it.