Jordan Henderson was rejected by Sir Alex Ferguson but ‘completed the set’ before heading for Saudi Arabia riches


Not much is left from Liverpool’s relatively terrible pre-Jurgen Klopp period, and Jordan Henderson has now made it a distant memory.

The last remnant in the squad from the Brendan Rodgers and Sir Kenny Dalglish periods, Henderson spanned three managers and 117 different teammates, only to leave early at the age of 33.

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Not much was hoped from Henderson when he took over from Steven Gerrard as captainCredit: getty
But he went on to win it all

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But he went on to win it allCredit: AFP or licensors

In a now rather awkwardly-named club documentary ‘Jordan Henderson is Never Done’ the midfielder’s teammates and manager praised the leadership of a captain that won it all.

Now though, thanks to the riches of Saudi Arabia and Al Ettifaq FC, Henderson is done far earlier than expected, stepping away from top level football at a club he helped return there.

Arriving in 2011 from boyhood side Sunderland, Henderson showed plenty of grit as an energetic right winger doing laps up and down the wing, but not much more. Eventually, he matured into the spirit of Klopp’s Liverpool team

His pathway was never straightforward, though, having to grow up in the shadow of Reds legend Steven Gerrard – who will be his new manager in the Middle East – and taking his captain’s armband in 2015.

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He eventually did what Gerrard never could and lifted the Premier League title in 2020, a year on from taking the Champions League and sobbing uncontrollably at the scale of the achievement in Madrid.

A tattoo of the European Cup accompanied his success, as did the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, and in 2021/22 he completed the set.

Winning the FA Cup against Chelsea, Henderson lifted all seven trophies on offer as Reds captain, and forever cemented his name in not just Liverpool’s, but football’s history books.

And that all came despite an unusual running style putting a black mark next to his name for Sir Alex Ferguson.

The legendary Manchester United manager recalled in 2021: “We were ready to make a bid for Jordan Henderson at Sunderland. I spoke to Steve Bruce and he loved the guy,

“And then our medical department said they were not happy with his running style – he could be the type to have injuries.

There were questions over Henderson, which he went on to quash

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There were questions over Henderson, which he went on to quashCredit: Getty

“I must say it was one of my bits of management to make sure the player is always available. If you sign a player and he is not available for you, it is a waste of time so that is the point I have to make about Jordan.

“We loved him as a player and he has proved that now, he has been fantastic and all the stories I am being told, it tells me I missed out on a really good person.”

Being a good person was part of Henderson’s leadership qualities that marked him out from the rest, as he was known for picking up new signings who were yet to even speak English, taking them to training to help with integration.

During the COVID-19 pandemic he was credited with setting up the ‘Players Together’ intuitive among Premier League captains, encouraging players to donate wages to the NHS while politicians attempted to use footballers’ salaries as an easy deflection tactic.

Henderson was rewarded for his services to chartiy

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Henderson was rewarded for his services to chartiyCredit: @jordanhenderson

The act earned him an MBE for his services to charity, and plaudits across the world of football, as even the biggest detractors of his footballing ability could no longer argue that he wasn’t an exceptional leader on the pitch, but off it too.

Ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, he showed his continued support for those who have come under persecution, giving his support to a member of the LGBTQ+ community on social media, and he also expressed his admiration for the Rainbow Laces campaign.

A year earlier In 2021 he said: “Before I’m a footballer, I’m a parent, a husband, a son, a brother and a friend to the people in my life who matter so much to me.

“The idea that any of them would feel excluded from playing or attending a football match, simply for being and identifying as who they are, blows my mind.

Henderson's move to Saudi would be a huge blow to the LGBTQ+ community he professes to support

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Henderson’s move to Saudi would be a huge blow to the LGBTQ+ community he professes to support

“The idea they’d have to hide from it to be accepted? But that’s exactly how too many members of the LGBT+ community feel.

“We know this because they tell us. So we should listen, support them and work to make it better.”

Now, though, Henderson is to play his trade in a country in Saudi Arabia where sentences for homosexual acts include the death penalty.

Liverpool’s official LGBTQ+ fan group Kops Out have expressed their fear over the move saying that they hope Henderson, ‘proves to be a man of his word and stays true to the values of our club, which so far he has been an absolute embodiment of’.

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A farewell video from the midfielder attempted to highlight his highs at Anfield, but it was largely flooded by comments from those despairing at money over morals.

And with a £700,000-per-week salary signed-off on, it appears even the best can be turned, and that if they weren’t already, the floodgates for Saudi’s football takeover are well and truly open.

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