Jordan Henderson’s particular final in Madrid
When Liverpool walk out to the pitch of the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday it is likely that Jordan Henderson will lead the team out in his second Champions League final – becoming only the fourth English player to captain a side in two Champions League finals, after Emlyn Hughes, John McGovern and Steven Gerrard. And while there are several sidestories in this final, the Sunderland-born 28 year-old probably has the best and most important one.
Ever since his arrival, Hendo has been a divisive figure at the club and a scapegoat for most of the bad days Liverpool had in the past.
From doubts about the big fee we paid Sunderland for his services to the way he ran, Henderson is used to unfair criticism. “Not good enough”, “Passion merchant”, “Injury prone”, “can only pass sideways” and several other well-known sentences were thrown at every discussion on social media and regular media to some extent. However, he always had an answer to every single one of them.
Over the time those voices diminished but they’re still out there, waiting to pounce on any single mistake he makes. And as Liverpool prepares to fight for its sixth Champions League trophy, Hendo is fighting for a place in history, to put his name alongside the legends.
Graeme Souness, Emlyn Hughes, Steven Gerrard… All lifted ‘big ears’ above their heads marking their name on Liverpool folklore. If Hendo can lead this side to success on June 1st, there’ll be nothing left for the doubters. Nothing will diminish his legacy as a Liverpool captain and he’ll be side to side with some of the great ones.
The truth is, such is his unselfish nature, that he’s probably not even thinking about that just yet. He’s concentrated on doing his best to ensure we’re successful on Saturday, but make no mistake: he knows what a personal victory that is. He doesn’t need to prove anyone how valuable he is to this side, but you can’t tell me it won’t feel sweet to rub it in some people’s noses.
Once frowned upon, he’ll now lead his club to a second consecutive European final and, if successful, has the chance to achieve immortality. He’ll put his heart and soul into it, like every single day he’s been here, to get us over the line. It helps that he’s a great footballer as well, but that’s just a small portion of everything that makes him special. He’ll run through brick walls and come out fighting on the other side to guarantee we’ll come out on top and if this squad achieves what not so long ago felt impossible they’ll be following the footsteps of their captain – who never seemed good enough until he was just that.