For anyone who witnessed a dejected Jordan Henderson trudging through the Stade de France’s mixed zone fresh from his Champions League final defeat, the idea was that a little over 12 hours later he was having “one of the best days of his Life” experienced an imaginative performance last month.
Henderson looked close to tears as he walked through the post-match media department on Saturday, May 28, having just been defeated 1-0 by Real Madrid in club football’s biggest game in Paris.
He was still gracious enough and noble enough to stop and speak to a handful of reporters, but it would have been a sad night for the Liverpool captain on the way back to Merseyside. In fact, one of the deepest moments of his career.
CONTINUE READING: Liverpool have already signed Mohamed Salah as a backup but he would have to change his position
CONTINUE READING: Alan Shearer ‘sure’ about Liverpool signing sent as Man City message
However, the ensuing save to end the season proved to be an inspired decision by both the club and Jurgen Klopp as the players and team celebrated their league and FA Cup double.
Henderson cut a very different figure from last night on the upper deck of the roofless bus as he partied all afternoon while superstar DJ Calvin Harris provided one of the most exclusive sets of his career.
It is estimated that over 500,000 people lined the city streets that day to welcome their heroes home and players responded in kind, thanking their followers for lifting the spirits and making them one of the days of their career had given.
“I didn’t think it would be possible after last night, but today was one of the best days of my life.” Henderson posted on Instagram at the time. “Thank you Reds.”
It was the perfect antidote to the sadness that gripped the club in France the night before, as the Reds lost on pitch and their fans faced horrible treatment from local police outside the chaotically organized event.
Ultimately, the decision to continue the parade will also serve another purpose. Those players will remember that feeling next season, they’ll use it to propel them to the greatest honors in football once again.
As captain, Henderson is playing a key role in making sure everyone is ready to get going again when pre-season kicks off in just over a week. He will be instrumental in ensuring that the entire team’s lasting memories of the previous season are not what happened in Paris but what happened in Liverpool celebrated with silver.
So the release of a brand new film about Henderson and his relentless determination and dedication has come at just the right time for Klopp.
In the Nike Football documentary, titled Jordan Henderson Is Never Done, the Reds boss explains exactly why the former Sunderland youngster is the perfect captain for Liverpool – and why the skipper indirectly has an early role to play this preseason The club as a whole are trying to recover from a sorely disappointing end to an otherwise exceptional season.
“Nothing that we have achieved in recent years would have happened without him, that’s easy to say,” says Klopp of Henderson. “There are so many important things you do over a season to keep a group together, to keep a group going, difficult moments and he’s great at that.
“He’s got speed, he’s got stamina, so he can run forever. Defensive skills are great, offensive skills are really great: attention, vision, passing. I expect the same from him as from everyone else: be the best version of yourself as often as possible [is] somehow possible. This gives us a good chance of winning football games.
“He’s captain of my team because he was captain when I got here and I saw no need to change that – that’s perhaps the greatest compliment. Obviously I didn’t know Hendo when I got here; I knew him as a player but not as a person. He has everything you need to lead a football team.”
Perhaps the task of arranging and coaxing this world-class collection of soccer players as captain will at least be made easier by the personalities within the squad.
With Liverpool owning three national team skippers in Andy Robertson (Scotland), Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands) and Mohamed Salah (Egypt), the challenge of maintaining standards and focus is given considerable support, all the more so by Liverpool’s unofficial governing committee now including Alisson Becker , Trent Alexander-Arnold and Vice-Captain James Milner.
“Jordan knows what it means to fans around the world and that’s huge in terms of your captaincy because it’s the team he leads, but it also represents the fans, the staff,” said Henderson’s former Sunderland -Teammate and close friend David Meyler says the ECHO.
“I don’t think it’s going to be too difficult to monitor that dressing room. If you look at the team, Alisson, Robertson, Trent, Virgil, Milner who was vice captain, Salah, they are captains for their countries. So it is remarkable that Jordan is still captain and that they respond to him as captain and that is a testament to him.
“Jurgen Klopp is a great example of that. Coming from Dortmund there were people looking at him and maybe there were a few reservations but he understood what it was and Jordan is an example of that.”
For Henderson himself, even now after a decorated stint at Anfield, the driving factor remains a wrought-iron desire to prove doubters wrong. That particular pool has all but evaporated since his Liverpool debut over a decade ago, but that drive never wanes, he claims.
Henderson says in the film, “When I’m on the pitch, I’m different. I think I’ve always been quite an instinctive player, quite an energetic, intense player, quite emotional. I’ve had to improve somehow in the last few years, definitely since Jürgen came. I get a lot of help from the players around me, of course a lot of help from the coaching staff.
“I’m getting a lot more intense [on the pitch], much more aggressive – just to try to help the team. I have to yell at people so they can really hear me.
“My motivation has always been to prove people wrong and I don’t think that will ever happen, I think it always will. I’ve had to prove people wrong my whole life and I don’t think I want that to change now. I’ve learned to deal with it, I’ve learned to use it positively.”
Memories of last season may still be fresh in the collective eye at Liverpool, but Henderson’s first pre-season job is already clear under Klopp as the club seek to shake off events in Paris in early July.