In the great script of the Premier League, where was it foreseen that Jordan Henderson would lift the title as Liverpool captain?
What once seemed an unlikely vision is now just weeks away from becoming a reality.
The skipper has been raking in the silverware to such an extent this year that he’s even perfected his own ‘trophy shuffle’.
The reasons for Liverpool’s dominance are varied, almost universally impressive, and each deserves to be credited for their imminent title win.
Henderson is finally getting the respect he deserves for his role in the midfield and of course, his inspirational leadership in the dressing room.
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The 29-year-old is on the cusp of reaching the pinnacle of a career which he has spent having to overcome criticism and win over his doubters from both within and outside the club.
GIVEMESPORT has decided to take a look at seven times he’s silenced his haters.
1. Winning over Fenway Sports Group
Ah, the infamous transfer committee. What was generally a perplexing and underwhelming period in Liverpool’s history saw Kenny Dalglish sometimes at odds with the club’s owners over who should be brought in. Henderson, signed for £20 million from Sunderland, raised eyebrows in the boardroom and Fenway Sports Group were reluctant to justify his fee.
2. Wearing the armband
They weren’t the only ones yet to be bowled over. ‘Replacing’ Steven Gerrard is a strong term, but plenty of Liverpool fans were unsure if Henderson was a midfielder even worthy of lacing the legend’s boots.
Very few in their position will ever come close to replicating Stevie G in terms of ability but as a leader, Henderson has shown he is more than capable of rallying the troops and ironically, he’s now on the brink of achieving the one thing his predecessor never could….
3. Disappointing in his first season at Liverpool
While he shouldn’t be judged on goals, a return of two in 48 games in all competitions wasn’t overly impressive – though he did win a League Cup in his debut season on Merseyside. Many remained uninspired by his love of the sideways pass, an art form he has now perfected to better effect.
4. Brendan Rodgers had ‘no interest’ in him
When Rodgers took charge, Henderson was one of the players he viewed as dispensable. It didn’t take long for him to be won over, however, as he went on to play a key role in their title challenge of 2013/14.
Some feel his suspension for poleaxing Samir Nasri was badly felt, perhaps even having a bigger impact on the destination of the Premier League title than Gerrard’s slip.
5. Playing centre-mid
You could argue Henderson is one of those midfielders meant for connoisseurs, one never likely to top the charts for goals or assists but a steady pacemaker.
The way he makes Liverpool tick may suggest he was a born centre-mid, but in his early days – and particularly at youth level – he was often shunted out to the right after being told he was too small.
6. Being offered to Fulham in a swap deal for Clint Dempsey
We’ve already said that Rodgers was unmoved by Henderson’s abilities, but how bad did it get? Well, the Northern Irishman was so unconvinced that he approached Fulham to see if they would be interested in a swap deal involving Clint Dempsey (who eventually ended up at Tottenham) going the other way.
Fortunately, Henderson practically chained himself to the Shankly Gate railings and the rest is history.
7. Fury at his call-up for Euro 2012
When Gareth Southgate had to choose a new captain, it was between Harry Kane and Henderson. Not bad going for a player whose international breakthrough was met with nationwide protests among the generally apathetic English population.
Among his critics, on that occasion, was Joey Barton, who felt he should have been called up to Euro 2012 instead when Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Jack Wilshere were all ruled out. Let’s decline to dignify that with a response and move on.
You can never write a player off too early.
A man once ridiculed and almost discarded is just six games away from making history.