Jordan Henderson has been appointed as Liverpool’s vice-captain following the departure of Daniel Agger to Brondby. This extra responsibility bestowed on him only reflects his rising influence for both club and country.
Things were not as rosy as it is now. Brendan Rodgers was unconvinced in the beginning and was willing to allow him to join Fulham, but Henderson turned down the move as he vowed to fight for his places at Liverpool.
In two years’ time, he is now one of the key members of this team and finds himself as next in line to the captaincy, a role currently fulfilled by his role-model Steven Gerrard.
“Obviously with Daniel leaving it was a decision I had to make,” Rodgers said. “Jordan has been in here a couple of years now so I have been able to make a decision and give it real thought. He’s someone who represents a lot of what we are about.
“I said to him he’s the moral conscience of our team, him and Stevie are the moral compass of our group, how they conduct themselves on and off the field, how they train, how they work. You see now for club and country he holds himself really well, he’s got a great stature and I think he will be around here for years to come.”
Henderson joined Liverpool in 2011 from Sunderland for a reported fee of around £16m. Initially, he struggled to make any significant impact in the team and came under severe criticism from Liverpool fans and the media as well.
But he kept working hard and rightfully earned the faith and respect of his manager. And once the confidence was restored there was no looking back for him. He improved with every single game and deservedly earned a national team call-up for the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Henderson is a typical box-to-box midfielder. He is an assured passer of the ball and covers lot of distance with his bundles of energy and tireless work rate. He bagged seven assists while his shots per game increased from 1.1 in 2012/13 to 1.4 last season.
His passing accuracy has improved from 83.9% when he first came in at Liverpool to 87.1% last season. His touches per game are usually higher than any other Liverpool players while his passes per game has increased by 27% within one year.
But where he has improved tremendously is at finding key passes to his team-mates. In 2011/12, Henderson had only managed 29 key passes from open-play, whereas last season it jumped up to 62 key passes.
His defensive contribution to the team is equally noteworthy, as his tackles per game has improved (2.4 tackles per game) from his earlier seasons. Overall, the stats are only a testament to the progress the 24-year-old has made in the last 15 months.
He is a true fighter. Instead of being caged down under pressure, he took it as a challenge to himself and made sure he overcomes it. If proving a point to his manager and being part of a physically draining title-race wasn’t enough, he has had to deal with immense pressure within his family, as his father, Brian Henderson, a retired police officer was diagnosed with cancer.
Henderson has proved his critics wrong. What was once seemed as a poor piece of business when he was first signed from Sunderland, now looks like a real bargain. He is a true asset for Liverpool and England.