Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson - Getty Images

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson – Getty Images

Before he had made his first-team debut at Sunderland there were signs of leadership from Jordan Henderson as he organised and coordinated his friends during his early days at the Academy of Light.

It may have only been a bit of after-training fun but Kevin Ball, his lead coach, was impressed when Henderson sent him footage of what had been filmed.

“They sent me a YouTube clip of his mates doing a video,” Ball said. “One would be over the other side of a wall and he’s controlled it and does a piece of skill, then it would be clipped to another friend.

“It was pure fun and I saw someone who loved playing football. It was choreography to the N’th degree. The amount of effort that went in was what impressed me. I thought ‘he’s really thought about it’ rather than how they controlled the ball.”

Ball says the making of Liverpool’s captain was developed in those early years at Sunderland, where he was close to being released as a teenager but never looked back after he stayed on.

During the lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic he contacted his fellow Premier League captains to organise a fund to raise money for the NHS. Then in football’s next moment of crisis, he rallied them again to fight the European Super League breakaway.

His post to Twitter was one of the turning points of the 48-hour farce, when he stated: “We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen.” There was no hinting at concern over the proposals. This was one of the captains from the six breakaway clubs saying the players were against it.

“This is our collective position. Our commitment to this football club and its supporters is absolute and unconditional.”

From those early days at Sunderland, his leadership qualities were honed after his move to Liverpool coming up to 10 years ago. He was training with Steven Gerrard and just listened and learned.

“Jordan would definitely had leadership values but I definitely think once he left Sunderland, I know he admired Steven Gerrard from when he was at Sunderland,” said David Meyler, his best friend, who played for Hull City and Reading after Sunderland.

“Then when you were working with him daily, he would be studying him more closely. The way he trained, the way he conducted himself and the way he went about his business. Gradually, year-on-year, he has got better as a captain.

“With the NHS fund, that is the type of person he is. He has a kind heart. He’s organised. It would have been hard to get the captain’s together but he wants to go the extra mile.”

That Liverpool dressing had a big influence on Henderson. There were big characters like Gerrard or Jamie Carragher or Luis Suarez, while Glen Johnson had won trophies before arriving from Chelsea.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard hands the captains armband back to Jordan Henderson - Action ImagesLiverpool's Steven Gerrard hands the captains armband back to Jordan Henderson - Action Images

Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard hands the captains armband back to Jordan Henderson – Action Images

His standing now in the Premier League is being one of the most influential figures among players. Marcus Rashford’s campaigning has made the biggest impact away from football, while Henderson is the captain among captains.

At England he is part of the leadership group in Gareth Southgate’s squad and he has been given every opportunity to recover from adductor surgery to make the European Championships this summer.

His actions off the pitch have not been a surprise to those who have worked with him.

“I saw with other players that he was a very humble and caring lad,” said Ball. “Maybe with lads who weren’t as fortunate as himself. He made sure his team-mates were looked after. That’s easy to say with how his career developed and what he’s done recently but I saw it as I was his lead coach.

“He would challenge me and argue with me in the most respectful way, over training or set-plays. He was part of a group of lads where, as a coach you could start it and they would finish it.”