Midfield general

AP

The 24-year-old Jordan Henderson has been one of the standout performers in a disappointing campaign for the Reds and it has been argued his absence in three of Liverpool’s final four games last season led to them missing out on a first title in 24 years. By Liam Andrews.

Following a turbulent start to his Liverpool career, nobody expected Jordan Henderson to be in the running to replace Steven Gerrard as captain when the midfielder leaves for the United States in the summer.

But following a rapid improvement since almost being sent to Fulham as a makeweight for Clint Dempsey when Brendan Rodgers first took over, Henderson is now one of the club’s most important players.

The 24-year-old has been one of the standout performers in a disappointing campaign for the Reds and it has been argued his absence in three of Liverpool’s final four games last season led to them missing out on a first title in 24 years.

But Henderson's story goes back a lot further than his move to the Reds — a loan spell at Coventry City in 2009, a year after his Premier League debut for boyhood club Sunderland, is something he regards as a vital moment in his career, claiming it “helped me progress as a player”.

The then Championship club tried to re-sign him the following season, but Black Cats boss Steve Bruce was determined to keep the talented youngster in his squad.

After making an impressive start to the 2010/11 campaign, Henderson was selected by Fabio Capello to play for England and won his first cap at Wembley in a disappointing 2-1 defeat to France.

With Henderson seen as one of the country’s brightest young talents it was not long before giants Manchester United were reported to be interested in a deal, but it was their rivals Liverpool who made the move to sign him.

Kenny Dalglish, the Reds boss at the time, said: “It is fantastic for the football club to be able to attract hugely talented young footballers that have huge potential.”

But it was to be a difficult first season at Merseyside for Henderson, as he struggled to make an impact and was often shifted out to an unnatural position on the right of midfield.

When Rodgers was named manager following Dalglish’s sacking it looked like his short time at Anfield would end, but a defiant Henderson was not planning on giving up that easily.

“I worked really hard to come to a club like Liverpool and I didn’t want to leave in a hurry,” he said. “I want to stay at Liverpool for as long as I can. I want to keep fighting for my place and I told the manager that.” Since then, he has not looked back. After playing a prominent role in Liverpool’s surprise challenge for the Premier League title in 2013/14, he became vice-captain as Daniel Agger left for Brondby.

He has often skippered the side in the absence of the ageing Gerrard this season and he now looks ready to step into his shoes when the veteran midfielder joins LA Galaxy in the summer.

“Jordan has everything you need to be a great captain. He’s a fantastic professional, who tries to lead by example in every training session and in every game,” said Gerrard. “He can become a great captain for this club. He’s a fantastic player for me to hand the armband over to.”

The fall and rise of Henderson should certainly inspire any young player who endures a difficult period in his career.

Henderson, married to Rebecca Burnett, has two daughters.

FACTFILE Name: Jordan Henderson Position: Midfielder Club: Liverpool D.O.B: 17/06/1990 England Caps: 20 England Goals: 0

Moment to remember: Taking over the Liverpool vice-captaincy following the departure of Daniel Agger to Brondby.

Moment to forget: Getting sent off against Manchester City in the 2013/14 season and subsequently serving a three-match ban during the crucial last leg of the Premiership.

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