Jordan Henderson may not be England captain, but he was the one who fronted up for the first post-match interview on the pitch after their defeat to France in the World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.
Harry Kane’s 84th-minute penalty miss denied England the opportunity to take the game to extra time, France winning 2-1 to set up a semi-final with Morocco.
Henderson played 79 minutes of the encounter, putting in a shift on the right side of Gareth Southgate’s midfield three.
Unlike in previous tournaments, England played well despite their exit, certainly unfortunate not to at least take the game to extra time on the balance of play.
“It’s hard [to sum it up], it’s hard to find the right words,” Henderson said post-match to ITV.
“I thought we gave everything in the game, [we were] disappointed to go 1-0 down, but the character and mentality to keep going and in the second half find the equaliser.
“We gave it everything but unfortunately it wasn’t our night.”
At age 32, this is likely Henderson’s last World Cup and he was asked if this was a missed chance for England as a squad.
“Probably, yeah,” he admitted. “We felt really good, and the performances were really good. The focus and hunger was good every single day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our night.
“You’ve got to give credit to France as they’re a good team, but I still felt it was there for us to win tonight.”
Much focus will be on Kane’s penalty, blazed over Hugo Lloris’ bar after having converted another one earlier in the match, but typically Henderson was keen to show support for the England and Tottenham striker.
“We know how many penalties he has scored for us,” said Henderson, with Kane having equalled Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time top goalscorer. “He scored the first one [and] how many goals he’s contributed for us to get here.
“He’ll be stronger in the long run, I’m sure. He’s a world-class striker, our captain, and we wouldn’t be here without him.”
Henderson has known setbacks before, but typically you can go again the following season and the opportunity for silverware is there 12 months later – as it was with the Champions League from 2018 to 2019. But that’s different in international football and England and Henderson’s next chance is two years away at the Euros in Germany.
The next World Cup, in USA, Mexico and Canada, will likely be too late for Henderson to complete his medal collection.