Pepijn Lijnders has praised Jordan Henderson as a “true in-and-out captain,” and explained how the Liverpool midfielder “makes his life easier” during training sessions.
Henderson is midway through his sixth season as permanent Reds captain, having previously filled the role in the absence of Steven Gerrard during the 2014/15 campaign.
Stepping into the shoes of one of Liverpool’s most revered figures has been difficult for the 30-year-old, but he is now a proven leader and an indispensable member of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad.
He has the trophies to back it up, but the value of Henderson to the Reds is made clear during every training session and game, with his ability to motivate and lead by example.
Speaking to The Big Interview with Graham Hunter, Lijnders was asked his thoughts on the Liverpool captain, and the assistant manager revealed how he often seems to read his mind in training.
“He’s the motor. He’s the experience. He’s the leader. He’s the example. He’s the connection between me, Jurgen and the team,” Lijnders said.
“He improved so much, and then you see that age doesn’t say that you cannot improve. So that’s a big lesson for a lot of players.
“And I think he represents the club, and represents our way, in a very humble and very powerful way.
“He’s a true in-and-out captain. I think in this moment in time you can’t get a bigger compliment.
“It’s how he deals with the dressing room, there are so many unwritten rules there.
“But of course, he has a very good family around him, he has great players around him, a great vice-captain, great leadership in the team.
“It’s like this: the moments I want to shout hardest in training, I hear Jordan one second before, shouting the thing I wanted to shout.
“So it makes my life much easier!”
Lijnders’ testament to Henderson’s role in training is important, with the Dutchman going on to explain how he and James Milner are both vital to relaying the messages of Klopp and his staff.
But also notable is how he highlighted the midfielder’s vast improvement in recent seasons, and how it is “a big lesson for a lot of players.”
Typically, outfield players are seen to reach their peak before their 30s, but the advances of sports science and a more diligent approach to nutrition is allowing many to not only extend their careers, but blossom later into them.
Henderson is certainly such an example, and with his major injury problems seemingly behind him, he looks set to remain a key player for Liverpool in the years to come.
Perhaps after that, though, a coaching role would suit him – and with Lijnders many supporters’ choice as Klopp’s successor, there may be a place on the staff at Anfield awaiting him.