On June 9, 2011, Liverpool would sign their future captain, but Jordan Henderson’s career at Anfield has been anything but straightforward in the nine years that followed.
The then 20-year-old put pen to paper on a contract with the Reds when Kenny Dalglish was at the helm for his second spell, the first signing in the summer of 2011.
Up until that point Henderson had spent his entire playing career with his boyhood club, Sunderland, bar a brief loan spell at Coventry City, and his move to Liverpool was widely described as a “surprise.”
In the years that followed, Henderson experienced a host of trials and had to prove himself to his manager, fans and teammates – but now he is the captain of a European and world champion team.
And in his nine years and 359 appearances for the club, Henderson has found himself earning a special place in the hearts of Reds and to commemorate his signing day we have looked at some of his most decisive and best moments at Liverpool.
The Trophy Shuffle
It was something we didn’t know we needed but now that it’s here, it must make a regular outing.
With three trophies added to the cabinet in the last year, Henderson’s move of facing his teammates with the trophy, shuffling his feet before turning and lifting the cup in the air has become a welcome sight.
And while it has since become a hallmark of the skipper’s celebrations, it’s first appearance in Madrid was not pre-planned, instead, it was a nod to dressing room “banter” with Andy Robertson.
But after being inundated with positive responses from Reds near and far, it has become his move, one which we are likely to see once more this season – albeit in a slightly different set of circumstances.
If anything, it is a symbol of how far Henderson has come since his early days at Liverpool, from watching on as Steven Gerrard lifted the League Cup to being the man who cemented his name in history by becoming the club’s fifth European Cup-winning captain.
Here’s to many more trophy shuffles.
Rocking the Bridge
A total of 28 goals have hit the back of the net thanks to Henderson, of which his efforts against Swansea, Man City and Norwich all deserve applause.
But there is one which stands above the rest. “What a beauty,” explained the commentator as Jurgen Klopp cried out “Boom!” and Marko Grujic was left stunned in the dugout.
It is, of course, his 30-yard screamer in the 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2016, one struck with devastating precision.
It came out of nowhere and there’s no doubt many were left as shocked as Grujic, and still are when you watch it back.
And his celebration said it all, the knee-slide and the passion amid another wave of pressure squarely on his shoulders.
The Fulham and Dempsey Saga
“I shed a few tears. I ended up crying a little bit because it hurt so much,” Henderson said of the defining moment of his career at Anfield.
He had been told by Rodgers that he was free to join Fulham in 2012 as part of an exchange deal for Clint Dempsey after struggling to break into the first team at Anfield.
It would have been the easy route, to make the move, rebuild and go again but the answer would be a firm ‘No’ – Dempsey would later sign for Tottenham on deadline day.
Henderson, meanwhile, would make himself an integral member of Liverpool’s push to the title in 2013/14 before leading his club to three titles, with at least one more on the way.
His drive to prove Rodgers wrong and his desire to succeed has underpinned his career at Liverpool and there is no doubt it was a watershed moment for both Henderson and the club.
The Captain’s Armband
In the summer of 2015, Henderson was officially announced as Liverpool’s new captain, taking over from Steven Gerrard who had donned the armband for 12 years.
The pressure and weight of expectation followed, one which caused a divide between fans and pundits alike as the scepticism which was seemingly part of the package deal when he signed for the club still lingering.
They were big shoes to fill, but instead of trying to carry on in the shadow of Gerrard, Henderson forged his own path with his own unique set of traits which made him suitable for the job, whether some could see it at the time or not.
While not necessarily one to drag Liverpool back from the abyss with match-winning goals like Gerrard, Henderson is a leader of men, one who leads through his actions and lets his work do the talking, in a different way to that of the former skipper.
His work and leadership is not reflected through statistics as he often works quietly in the background, not one for the spotlight.
And Klopp’s words following the triumph in Madrid say it all: “Jordan Henderson is captain of the Champions League winner 2019 – that’s satisfying actually.”
Silencing the Doubters
It is all to say that Henderson has not been short of obstacles to overcome in his time at Liverpool and yet he has emerged stronger for it.
The expectation as a 20-year-old signing, to then knowing the manager was willing to offload you to the weight of pressure which came from simply being the man to follow Gerrard – it would be easy to accept him crumbling.
Yet, he has taken it all in his stride and like Klopp famously uttered, he has well and truly turned doubters into believers.
A leader, a fierce competitor, a running machine and a player willing to put the club’s best interests ahead of his own. Henderson has grown year on year into his own player and captain, blossoming in 2019/20 like never before.
Here’s to you Jordan Henderson, to nine years, four trophies and many more successful years ahead.