Jamie Carragher has heaped praise on the “character” and “resolve” of Jordan Henderson, nine years on from signing for Liverpool.
The current Liverpool captain joined the Reds in the summer of 2011, where Jamie Carragher was preparing for his 16th and penultimate season as a professional.
It was not a move which caused a tidal wave of excitement and he would be met with trepidation and scepticism, but few, if any, at the time could have predicted what awaited him before the turn of the decade.
And the transformation undertaken by Henderson both on and off the pitch has been a remarkable one, and when discussing his nine-year anniversary on Sky Sports, Carragher commended his resolve to not let outside opinions define the trajectory of his career.
“When he initially came in – and obviously I’d seen a little bit of him for Sunderland but not too much – I just remember early on he backed out of a couple of tackles at Anfield and right away the crowd were like, ‘No we’re not having that’ type of thing. And he was brought in as that type of player,” Carragher explained.
“I think that’s grown in Jordan a little bit. He’s very intense and you can see that on the pitch, he’s the Liverpool captain or player who’s actually having a go at players, or he’s always in the referee’s face, football means so much to him.
“His reward is being the first Liverpool captain to lift the league title in 30 years and a Champions League winner. When he first arrived at the club, no-one would have believed that, but never underestimate people with that sort of personality and character and resolve to change people’s opinions of them.”
Carragher points to his ‘minor altercation’ with Luis Suarez as a key moment in his growth as a senior player, one which helped bring his competitive and unrelenting spirit to the fore and ensured he has remained a mainstay in the side irrespective of the manager or new arrivals.
The 2013/14 season was one which saw Henderson take his game to the next level, but the current campaign has seen the skipper break new ground on and off the pitch, much to his former teammates’ delight.
“I think a lot of people like Jordan they have something special about them, where you never write these players off and at different times throughout his Liverpool career, you thought someone has come in and he mightn’t play, he always still plays,” Carragher continued.
“And to last nine years at a club, the size of Liverpool I think is not only testament to his ability, but to his personality and his character.
“The two biggest clubs in the country are Liverpool and Man United, there’s a lot of pressure to play for those clubs, a lot of media intrusion, fans around the world judging and talking about your performance and it’s not easy.
“A lot of payers, great players can’t cope playing with that scrutiny, so that just shows what he’s got.
“And I’m just delighted right now that, he in a couple of weeks at some stage is going to lift the Premier League title and he’s already lifted the Champions League as well, the Club World Cup, the Super Cup and at the end of his career he’s going to go down as one of those great Liverpool captains who have lifted plenty of trophies.
“I thought Sadio Mane was Liverpool’s best player when the season stopped and I wouldn’t change my view on that.
“But in terms of who has been the outstanding footballer of the year, it’s about more than what you do on the pitch, and I don’t think there’s a more outstanding candidate to pick up that trophy [Footballer of the Year], if it is given out, than Jordan Henderson.”