With time being called on Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard’s glittering career ahead of his impending move to LA Galaxy in the summer , the enigmatic midfielder will no doubt leave a void in the heart of the team, but has manager Brendan Rodgers got a ready made replacement in Jordan Henderson?
Henderson admittedly struggled when he first joined the Reds; so much so that he was offered to Fulham when Rodgers first arrived. However, he decided to stay and fight for his position and has now been rewarded with the vice captaincy at the Merseyside club. Once Gerrard leaves at the end of this season, it is hard to look past him to be promoted to captain.
Where did all this start? Jordan Brian Henderson was born on 17th June 1990 in Sunderland and signed his first professional contract with his home team Sunderland on 1st July 2008. A loan spell with Coventry followed before he went on to make 71 appearances for the Black Cats. A lucrative move to Liverpool was completed on 9th June 2011, and he made his debut on 13th August 2011.
But it wasn’t all roses for him. Initially struggling to adapt to life at one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League, Henderson was often deployed on the right wing, a position which normally needs pace and creativity, something which he was not renowned for. Then the crunch meeting with Rodgers with the Liverpool boss looking to ship him out to Fulham where he would be afforded more playing time, Henderson decided to stay and fight for his position. Rodgers told him that he couldn’t guarantee him playing time, but would help him develop as a player. True to his word, Henderson is now an integral part of the team, as well as the England national team.
So why would he be a great captain? To start with, his similarities with Steven Gerrard are for all to see. He plays in the same position and has the same heart and desire as Gerrard. Henderson’s work rate is second to none, always grafting for the team. Another trait would be his loyalty. Steven Gerrard has to this time been a “One club man”. It would be fair to say that he is going to America at the end of his career, when he can no longer be competitive in the Premier League. Loyalty seems to be an attribute that is declining from the game, as player power increases. In an interview with the Liverpool echo, Henderson said “I love playing football for Liverpool and I want to be there for many years”. This will surely be music to Liverpool fans’ ears, as the contract saga with winger Raheem Sterling rumbles on.
His peers have also praised his ability to motivate and that he is a positive influence in the dressing room, where his colleagues respect him. As a fan, we don’t get to see what happens in the dressing room, but it would be fair to say that some games are probably won in these tight knit circles before a shot in anger on in the pitch.
So what next for Henderson? He has already had a taste of Champions League football, albeit a relatively short one. Liverpool are sat 5th in the table on 54 points, whilst rivals Manchester United are in the last qualifying spot with 59 points. That is a big gap, with only 8 games left to play. Liverpool fans will be looking for Henderson to spearhead their efforts in the few remaining games.
With Gerrard moving to the MLS at the end of this season, Henderson would be the right choice to fill his shoes. If he does, he will be one of the youngest players ever to captain the Reds. But it shouldn’t just be club football that he sets his sights on. Henderson has all the attributes to become a future England captain. Current captain Wayne Rooney may have the armband for sometime yet to come, but Henderson will no doubt be ready to take over the honour.