Jordan Henderson has recalled the day he was asked to play as Liverpool’s No. 10 by Brendan Rodgers, and how he “loved it” in a role he seemingly considers his favourite.
The Reds captain has played a variety of different positions throughout his career, and this season alone has shared duties between a roving No. 8 and a sitting No. 6.
His best form has typically come further forward, but the absence of Fabinho earlier in the campaign forced him back into his deeper role and the 29-year-old produced arguably his finest run yet.
But in an interview with Guillem Balague, recorded a while ago but released as part of the Pure Football Podcast on Monday, Henderson looked back to a stint as No. 10.
With Liverpool travelling to QPR at the end of 2012, Rodgers was unable to take his place in the dugout due to an illness that the No. 14 had also suffered the night before, leaving Colin Pascoe in charge of his 4-2-3-1.
Steven Gerrard and Joe Allen occupied the deeper positions, with Henderson replacing Suso to fill the supporting role behind Luis Suarez, while Stewart Downing and Raheem Sterling played out wide.
The game ended 3-0 to the Reds, with Suarez scoring twice and Daniel Agger heading in the third.
Suarez was on fire that evening, and it was a moment of brilliance from the Uruguayan that saw Henderson technically record the first assist of the game—though his simple pass outside the area left the striker was a lot to do.
Reflecting on the game, Henderson revealed that he “loved it” in an advanced position, saying “that’s when the kid in me comes out.”
“I used to play there a lot for Sunderland, that’s when my game comes out,” he explained.
“I was in the No. 10 behind Suarez and loved it, loved it.
“I was ill, I came off on 70, 75 minutes because I had a sickness bug the night before. I think Brendan had it as well actually, he was ill, he wasn’t at the game, he had to go home.
“So I played 70, 75, and he text us afterwards saying I’d played well and maybe the illness helped me because I wasn’t running around as much and I stayed in my position!
“I played there quite a bit, I played different positions under Brendan, especially when I was first getting in the team.
“I played on the left, I played in behind, I played more as a No. 8 up and down, a little bit deeper, so I did play various positions.
“I enjoy all of them, but especially behind the striker, I loved that. That’s when the kid in me comes out and I get excited.”
Now, there is little opportunity for Henderson to fulfil his desire of playing directly behind the striker, particularly as Jurgen Klopp‘s system no longer includes a No. 10.
But despite now being 29, there is a clear ambition to contribute in the final third, and only six Liverpool players have had a hand in more goals than Henderson so far this season, who has scored three and assisted five.
It is a testament to his versatility and commitment that he has been relied upon to fill so many roles since his move from Sunderland to Merseyside in 2011, which has aided his longevity at Anfield.
And it also shows his creative side, with Henderson still clearly eager to express himself despite his more rigid duties under Klopp.