Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is enjoying proving people wrong and will continue to do so.
The England midfielder is the club’s longest-serving current player, having made his debut in August 2011, but is also comfortably the most maligned.
With Liverpool signing Brazil international Fabinho and Guinea midfielder Naby Keita for a combined £100million in the summer, Henderson’s stock fell even further, with supporters quick to criticise.
He has been left on the bench from some significant matches, most notably the Champions League semi-final first leg in Barcelona, but has nearly always bounced back to prove his big-game mentality.
Henderson got a chance in the Nou Camp because of Keita’s injury and became an influential figure, while, in the 4-0 win at Anfield in the return leg which overturned a 3-0 deficit to book back-to-back Champions League finals, he was immense having been handed a starting place.
He played though an injury, requiring a pain-killing injection and tablets at half-time, to get through 90 minutes when it appeared his match, and possibly his season, was done when he collapsed midway through the first half after falling awkwardly, having taken a blow to his right knee.
“It does mean a lot to me. I was struggling a little bit when I got a whack on the knee. It was dead. The doctor said just keep it moving,” said Henderson, who ranked the win over the Barcelona as the best of his career.
“I managed to get to half-time and I had a bit of treatment, took painkillers, all that stuff which helped. There was a jab and tablets. Both. Everything. I said, ‘Just give us everything’.
“So I managed to get through it and the crowd helped as well and kept us going. It was an amazing night and honoured to be part of it and contribute.”
On continually having to prove himself, even at the age of 28 and as club captain and an established international, Henderson added: “I quite enjoy it now. I’ve got used to it.
“It is only a display from me because of my team-mates. It is nothing to do with one person.
“Yes, I contributed, but so did everyone else who played as well. Throughout my career I have always wanted to prove people wrong and that will never change.
“I will continue to do that until I finish playing football. Football is like that any way, it changes that quickly.
“Whether you are winning trophies or not there are always questions asked, someone else saying you cannot do this or that, so there is always things that you want to prove.
“I want to improve as a footballer and keep getting better to contribute to the team to be successful.”
Henderson is the ultimate professional and the perfect team player. There was no sulking when left on the bench at the Nou Camp and that meant he was able to respond quickly when Keita was injured last week.
“It was frustrating. You are disappointed, just as if you look at Gini (Wijnaldum, who started on the bench for the second leg but scored two vital goals) would have been disappointed and frustrated.
“There are always going to be players who don’t start, who are going to be frustrated and disappointed. But it is about how you react.
“You see how Gini reacted – it was outstanding and that is what you need from players.
“I felt when I came on away (in the Nou Camp) I reacted in the right way, I put in a good shift for the lads.
“That is the good thing about this team. We are in it together, we fight for each other no matter how disappointed you are, you are still there for your team-mates and you still support them.
“When you are given the chance to play you have to give everything and try to contribute. That is what I try to do.
“It is not easy, it is difficult because everyone wants to play, but we have so many good players in this squad that not everyone can start.”
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