safc.com reflect on the mesmeric rise of Jordan Henderson through the club’s academy ranks as he celebrates his 27th birthday today.
Farringdon-born, Henderson plies his trade at Liverpool and was given the prestigious honour of captaincy following the departure of legendary Kop figure Steven Gerrard to MSL outfit LA Galaxy in May 2016.
A seasoned England international as well, Henderson’s inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for the 2016 European Championships epitomised his attitude and desire after missing the back end of the season through injury.
But while injuries bring a worry of fitness and form, Henderson’s bread and butter has always been his “discipline, work-rate and attitude,” as recalled by Sunderland’s academy manager Ged McNamee, which suggests he shouldn’t have any problems getting up to speed in the French heat.
That said, while the Euros brings great expectations, Henderson has kept his feet firmly rooted on the ground, his head out of an untouchable cloud and stuck to the inherent lifestyle laid down to him on the first day he walked into Sunderland AFC.
“My time at the academy was great so I’m really complimentary of it because there were some good coaches and there was a lot of discipline,” Henderson reflected.
“I really enjoyed it and I had Kevin Ball during my apprentice and he was very good, we had a good team to be fair and it was brilliant.
“Bally was really, really heavy on certain things and that made it hard but he drilled it into you and that was important.”
He continued: “The discipline side of it for Bally was massive and now it is huge for me because I have seen a lot of good players and talented players who haven’t really had the discipline or haven’t had the right attitude and they aren’t playing football anymore which isn’t nice to see.”
Henderson joined the Black Cats aged eight before going on to rise through the club’s youth system and then into the first-team where he made his debut in at Chelsea in 2008.
While it sounds a simple route through to the first-team, it isn’t as sugar coated as it may seem as Henderson’s rise was the fruition of years of hard work.
But even after-all that, luck, still plays a major part.
However, like many budding footballers, getting even just a minute to impress is hard enough but when Henderson got his chance it was the dawn of something special. . .
“Roy Keane was the manager and at half-time at Chelsea he told me to go out and warm-up. He told me I was coming on and while it wasn’t great because we lost 5-0, just to get flung in at the deep end was a great experience.
“To get a feel for playing in the Premier League and to see the level I needed to get to was great. It was an experience that I definitely wouldn’t change and one that I think helped me in the long run.
“To be able to play for the first-team at the Stadium of Light was incredible, I had always dreamt of it, so to be able to do that was massive and then to do it with England was just as big.”