Jordan Henderson was once like a worm being used to lure in the fish, as Brendan Rodgers attempted to use the former Sunderland man as bait to capture Clint Dempsey from Fulham.
Oh, how the world works in mysterious ways.
Back in 2012, now Leicester manager Rodgers was willing to offload the midfielder, but Henderson stayed and worked his way firmly into the history books at Liverpool Football Club.
In 2015, the Reds began an era of new management under Jürgen Klopp and it was made clear from the offt that heart and passion would be required to succeed under the former Borussia Dortmund gaffer – two things that Henderson is built on, making it a match made in heaven.
During the early stages of his career on Anfield, Henderson was an understudy to the idolised Steven Gerrard, who was approaching the latter stages of his career. Even here, it was becoming clear that the young Mackem was possibly being lined up to take the armband once the Anfield icon had left the club.
Coincidentally, just three months prior to Klopp’s arrival, the England international was confirmed as captain of one of the biggest clubs in the country – but also a club lacking much recent success in terms of lifting trophies.
Despite being presented with the armband by one of the most best English footballers of his generation, the fact was that, at the time Henderson was handed the club captaincy, the Reds had won just a solitary League Cup since his arrival in 2011.
The Reds were dozing off and in danger of the sleeping giant label, with little sign of waking up. The 2013/14 campaign provided a spark of hope, but reality soon hit home that in order to achieve the biggest successes the club would need a change of direction.
Liverpool were stuck in a rut, developing players only to lose them to the so called ‘big boys’ of European football. A time that epitomises such a statement would be the day Fernando Torres left the club for Chelsea, allowing the arrival of Luis Suárez from Ajax. Imagine if the club were able to pair the two together instead of replacing one with the other.
As with any club stuck at a crossroads, if the trophies don’t come, players soon begin to move on, and it becomes hard to build. Since the arrival of Klopp though, the Reds have managed to provide incoming signings with a platform to build a project and a mentality to win.
While the credit for overseeing the project must be put with Klopp, Henderson has been outstanding in maintaining expectations, both on and off the field.
Regardless of whether the situation requires encouragement for down-hearted youth or a reality check for experienced players in the squad, Henderson is the one there to set the tone and stand with his teammates – epitomising everything the club stands for.
A man who has been harassed and taunted for his ability in the past has undoubtedly shown some of the most notable improvements of any player, not just this season but in general.
Henderson could easily have allowed the doubt to creep in and affect his confidence and his career, but instead he has used it as fuel for his desire and determination, which now can take him anywhere he sets his mind.
As captains go in the Premier League, currently he sits far and away at the top of the pile. His leadership and sheer will separate him from anyone else. The fact he has also lifted the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and now the Premier League in the last 13 months helps to set him apart too.
Liverpool are lucky to have such an outstanding servant and skipper, the first English captain to lift the so called ‘international treble’.
Kevin De Bruyne is an incredible player and was deservedly in the running for the Premier League Player of the Season award, as were a number of Henderson’s Liverpool teammates – not least Sadio Mané.
But while the Reds’ captain may not have the footballing ability of some of the other contenders, the influence he has had on this incredible Liverpool side this season makes him a deserved winner of the individual honour, above all others.
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