This has been a contradictory week for Jordan Henderson. On the one hand, it’s a celebration of ten years with a club that he has served with great distinction. On the other, his mere presence in the England squad for the Euros is being questioned. He’s even been called selfish for having the cheek to turn up.
Henderson’s rocky start at Liverpool
When Sir Kenny Dalglish signed the midfielder from Sunderland in 2011 for £20 million, there were some raised eyebrows. His first few seasons didn’t quite justify that pricey bill. The 30-year-old’s sheer determination has overcome so many issues over the last decade.
In Brendan Rodgers’ early days, it was Henderson who was earmarked for Fulham in a swap deal for Clint Dempsey. The player firmly rejected the idea. He is now the “embodiment of a Liverpool player” according to Jurgen Klopp. Henderson knew he was good enough to wear the shirt. Lesser men would have accepted their fate.
Acceptance of what Henderson brings to the pitch
It’s been a journey for the player but also for many fans. Reds supporters were critical of his place in the team. While most could see the value of what Henderson brings to the pitch, there has also been a significant minority who were ignorant to what else he brought to the party. It does seem amazing that the midfielder’s worth has been questioned for so long. One such article claimed he was the “best” worst player in the Premier League. Whatever that means.
This belies the flexibility Henderson has shown over the years. The younger version was the box to box midfielder in the 13/14 campaign. He is a deeper-lying dictator of rhythm. He is the hub that shields the defence, mobilises his players and asks for more. Nothing goes to waste with Henderson. None of it is for show. It is all sheer application and bloody-mindedness to win.
There was always a tendency to minimise his true quality, especially when the Reds were deploying an industrial midfield triumvirate including James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum. As the side has developed into a winning machine, a truer picture and appreciation of what he brings has softened the critics. “Hendo” has not only grown as a player but has developed into an ambassador. When the Wearsider commits to something, whether it is a tackle or a meeting with other Premier League captains, then he means business.
Liverpool skipper has unfinished business with England
It feels like the Liverpool skipper has unfinished business with his country. Reports that he took the penalty against Romania because he wanted to score for England doesn’t match up to his utterly selfless streak. His anxiety is understandable after three months out of competitive football. Whatever happens this summer, it should be like water off a duck’s back. Henderson knows how to deal with negativity.