(Nancy Kaufman) #1


ne thing you probably already know about Jordan
Henderson, and another you might not. The first: his
captain’s column, thoughtful and savvy, is one of the
highlights of each Liverpool FC matchday programme.
The second: like the manager Jürgen Klopp, he’d prefer not to
have his picture splashed over his page or across the programme’s
front cover. It’s not about him – it’s about the team, the club, the
fans. Just as it was for the man he succeeded as skipper, Steven
Even so, those three pyrotechnic trophy-lifts over the last ten
months – Champions League, Super Cup, World Club Cup –
are the defining on-field images of this time, this moment, this
Liverpool, and as much a culmination of his own personal journey
over the last nine years as that of the club overall.
Around 12 months ago, after Henderson had come off the
bench, scored and inspired the Reds to a crucial Friday-night win
at Southampton, the manager called him, simply, “a brilliant player.
He’s our skipper, he’s a fantastic character. If I had to write a book
about him it would be 500 pages.
“The most difficult job in the last 500 years of football was to
replace Steven Gerrard. In the mind of the people it was like: if
it’s not Stevie, then it’s not good enough. And he has dealt with
that outstandingly well, so he can be really proud. He is a very
important part of our team.”
This is Hendo’s ninth season at Liverpool and his fifth with the
armband. Still only 29, he’s the longest-serving senior player at the
club, having been signed by Kenny Dalglish in the summer of 2011.
Let’s cast our minds back to that very different era. Liverpool
had just finished sixth in the Premier League table, behind

champions Manchester United, runners-up Chelsea, emergent
Manchester City and North London powers Arsenal and
Tottenham. In the dugout the Reds had replaced Roy Hodgson
with Dalglish halfway through the campaign.
The previous season, 2009/10, they’d been seventh and Rafael
Benitez had left a club whose distressed fanbase, it’s not too
melodramatic to say, were fighting for its soul.
In came Fenway Sports Group in October 2010. In came Kenny
in January 2011. And that June in came a fresh-faced 20-year-old
from Sunderland, which one full England cap, for a reported fee
of £20 million. Joining him at the official press conference were
fellow new signings Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Brazilian
goalkeeper Doni.
“Henderson,” reported the BBC, “will provide competition in a
midfield which already boasts internationals Steven Gerrard, Lucas
Leiva, Raul Meireles and Christian Poulsen.” This felt like a team in
Just recently former Reds team-mate Jamie Carragher
interviewed Jordan for his own Greatest Game podcast
and recalled a chat he’d had back then with Roy Keane, the
midfielder’s old boss at Sunderland, not long after his move to
“I will never forget it. I’d never met Roy Keane before and I was
doing the TV with him and he said, ‘Never, ever back against that
lad, Jordan Henderson – he will be fine’. It always stuck with me,
“Obviously you played the same position and even I looked
up to him – Manchester United captain, very successful – and I
thought, ‘That will do me’.”
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