On Saturday night, June 1st, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy following the Reds’ 2-0 over Tottenham Hotspur.
Henderson wasn’t supposed to be a Liverpool player this season, or any of the last seven seasons. Yet, he has become an indispensable player in the same way Steven Gerrard once was.
Jordan Henderson and the journey to the Champions League Final
Henderson started his football career in 2008 with Sunderland. It was there as a right-sided midfielder that he caught the eye of football managers around England.
The midfielder established himself as an exciting player and in two full seasons at Sunderland, Henderson tallied four goals and nine assists. Henderson’s play led Liverpool to pay £20 million to bring him to Anfield in June 2011.
Despite being a rising star, Henderson failed to impress at Liverpool while playing in 48 games in all competitions in his first season at Anfield.
By August 2012, Liverpool were ready to cut their losses with Henderson and they began shopping him around to other Premier League clubs. Liverpool entered talks with Tottenham Hotspur to swap Henderson for the highly coveted Clint Dempsey.
Few, if any, Liverpool supporters would have been upset to see Henderson go, but the midfielder refused to leave Anfield and the swap transfer was cancelled.
Jordan Henderson rise to the top
Playing with a chip on his shoulder, Henderson entered the 2012-13 season with a renewed focus. He scored five times and added four assists. Henderson would also begin playing more centrally as he learned from long-time Liverpool icon Gerrard.
Jurgen Klopp’s 2015 arrival changed everything for Henderson. He began sitting deeper to dictate play and to stop opposing attacks. The addition of defensive midfielder Fabinho in June 2018 allowed Henderson to change his focus even more.
Henderson’s 2018-19 may not have been his best season statistically. He scored just one goal while assisting five. Yet, his leadership, drive, and will to win were all contributing factors in Liverpool’s season.
It is these skills and attributes that cannot be taught by any manager no matter how good they are. Henderson is more than just a goal and assists and that is why Liverpool won the 2019 Champions League Final.
His story is perfect to follow for any player out there considering stopping after one bad season.