Jordan Henderson is a long old way from his formative days as a Sunderland star, playing in Champions League finals and challenging for the Premier League, while the Black Cats face disappointment after disappointment.
The Englishman joined his boyhood club at the tender age of eight before climbing through the ranks of the youth system and then eventually the first-team where he would eventually realise his dream make his debut at Chelsea all the way back in 2008.
However, this wasn’t some linear tale about a player rife with natural talent and ability simply making it, as it may sound.
No – there was so much more to it; a tale of pain, anguish, hard work and patience mixed together with the insurmountable odds faced by all youngsters trying to make their way in the game.
The only difference was that Henderson took his opportunity when it was handed to him.
As the England international recounts (per the club’s official site): “Roy Keane was the manager and at half-time at Chelsea he told me to go out and warm-up. He told me I was coming on and while it wasn’t great because we lost 5-0, just to get flung in at the deep end was a great experience.
“To get a feel for playing in the Premier League and to see the level I needed to get to was great. It was an experience that I definitely wouldn’t change and one that I think helped me in the long run.
“To be able to play for the first-team at the Stadium of Light was incredible, I had always dreamt of it, so to be able to do that was massive and then to do it with England was just as big.”
After 75 appearances though, Jordan Henderson left his beloved Sunderland team to play under the bright lights of Anfield for everyone’s least favourite side, Liverpool.
For eight years now the Englishman has battled with ongoing debates about whether he should or shouldn’t be branded a painfully average player who is punching well above his weight, but recently we think the world – well, at least England – has come to terms with the fact that he’s actually a pretty decent talent (admittedly, our reservations were largely fuelled by not wanting to give Liverpool supporters the satisfaction).
There isn’t much to his game that stands out as technically amazing, but what he lacks in skills he more than makes up for in passion and work rate.
Indeed, you’ll struggle to find someone out their more loyal and dedicated than our man in question. Like a man’s best friend, Henderson sits tight to Liverpool’s squad and ensures 100 percent commitment and love. His high-octane brand of football fits quite perfect into the style demanded by his mentor Klopp, who has somehow inspired increased levels of willpower and tenacity.
Sat next to another trusty old dog, James Milner, captain Henderson has guided his Liverpool side to two Champions League finals in a row, with the upcoming game to be played against Spurs in Madrid. How poetic would it be to win the trophy in the Spanish capital at Atletico’s ground after last year’s upset against rivals Los Blancos? ‘Very’ is your answer.
Sunderland fans, what are your standout memories of Jordan Henderson? Let us know in the comments below…
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