You have to imagine that deep down inside, he wants to send a message to all the doubters, all the haters, all the detractors to who all those who claimed that he wasn’t fit to play for Liverpool Football Club, let alone captain the side. It must be so tempting to let all those who ridiculed him know that they were wrong. But that’s just not who he is, it is not what he’s all about.
Instead Jordan Henderson is focused solely on leading his team to even greater heights. The year 2019 was an incredible one for the Liverpool captain and his teammates. A year where many stupendous feats may never be topped. They deserve are now getting plaudits from most arond the world. However, early on in the year Jurgen Klopp and the squad were instead mocked for being the nearly men of football, that they didn’t have what it takes to win.
The pressure was unquestionably immense. The club had tasted no success since the 2012 League Cup triumph (of which only Henderson remains from that side). Something had to give. For a club with such a rich history of success, persistent failure was no longer an option.
It all started with glory in the Champions League final in June. The team showed unquestionable character to bounce back to the showpiece event of European football having lost a year previously to Real Madrid. To some degree, teams are only as good as their leadership and Liverpool have always been in good hands with not only Henderson but the likes of James Milner, Virgil van Dijk and even Adam Lallana. The core group of players are as mentally strong as any team I have ever seen. Success is no accident but a bi-product of a long and arduous process.
There are those that don’t hold the Super Cup or World Club Cup in the highest of esteem but the golden ticket needed to even take part in these events is so valuable and difficult to obtain that one has to admit they are valuable pieces of silverware. On both occasions, the Reds needed to dig deep to achieve victory and again it was no fluke that when the going got tough, Liverpool got going.
No matter what way you twist it though, as we entered the new year and new decade the previously maligned Henderson had lifted three trophies in his distinctive and amusing fashion. His twinkle toe style is surely trademarked Hendo by now. Three major pieces of silverware in little over six months after so many barren and frustrating years It was quite the astonishing finish to a decade that seemed destined to be all about missed opportunities. In one ferocious six month run, Liverpool rewrote the previously depressing narrative and even history itself.
When Henderson arrived at the club in 2011 for around 20 million pounds it was deemed to be an expensive investment by King Kenny Dalglish. Back then 20 million pounds was still a significant amount of money and Henderson was relatively unproven. I could understand to some degree why many weren’t quite convinced.
While he got off to a relatively slow start at Anfield, it wasn’t too surprising in retrospect given the state of the club at the time still suffering from post-Benitez hangover syndrome.
I don’t know what it was though but I warmed to him almost right away as both a player and a person. Despite the erratic form, it was clear to me that there was a very talented player in front of our eyes and his passion when scoring a rare goal was incredibly infectious.
It has been discussed to the death about what could have been in 2014 had Henderson not been sent off against Manchester City, subsequently missing the crucial and catastrophic run in, arguably costing the Reds the title. His influence was steadily growing.
What was also surprising even to me for an individual who experienced so many injury setbacks over the years that he was still the player with the most Premier League appearances in the last 10 years. He even topped his teammate and resident ironman James Milner.
The cherry on the 2019 cake arrived this week as Hendo was named England’s player of the calendar year. This is no small feat given the form that the English team has been in over the past 12 months.
However, as stated at the top, personal accolades don’t mean much to Jordan Henderson. The team always comes first. This is a player who wanted to share the lifting of the Champions League trophy. It is a selflessness that is rare in any walks of life let alone for a professional footballer. That is why after almost 10 years at the club that Henderson is finally getting the adulation he has long deserved from not just our supporters but in world football. Long may it continue, there’s still one big goal on his mind.