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Jurgen Klopp and Jordan Henderson: A match made in heaven

Jordan Henderson is now proving his worth and showing that his decision to stay at Anfield was justified.

Jurgen Klopp has proven time and time again that he can find talent within players who may otherwise be written off.

The Liverpool boss has taken relegation fodder in Andrew Robertson and Georginio Wijnaldum and transformed them into some of the most respected footballers in the world.

Now, the German can add Jordan Henderson to that list, as his persistent belief in the Reds captain is now paying dividends.

Throughout his career, the England international has been an easy target when times have been tough, used as a scapegoat for both club and country.

There are few Liverpool fans that can truthfully say they have never doubted Henderson, with the majority calling for his departure at some point in his tenure at Anfield.

Kenny Dalglish brought him to the Reds from Sunderland back in 2011, with the 20-year-old costing £20 million following a string of impressive performances for the Black Cats.

Liverpool supporters were unsure as to whether he would emerge as an all-conquering midfielder, similar to their talisman Steven Gerrard who was coming to the end of his career.

Henderson was often shipped out to the right side of midfield, and without a single complaint would be the hardest worker on the field.

That wasn’t enough for some though, with Brendan Rodgers looking to offload the midfielder just over a year into his Liverpool career.

FSG, the club’s owners, were dedicated to bringing in young talented players with a view to developing those signings into first team regulars or making a tidy profit later down the line.

Henderson fitted their vision perfectly, however Rodgers was prepared to offload him.

The fact that the club were prepared to disregard their new found vision in order to allow Henderson to leave Anfield spoke volumes of their feelings towards him at the time.

Any other player would have taken the hint and gone on to prove the Reds wrong in their new venture, using their lack of faith as the perfect motivation – but not the future Liverpool captain.

Instead, Henderson fought for his place, and in the 2013/14 season became a vital cog in Rodgers’ side that came agonisingly close to clinching the Premier League title.

In the end, that campaign became famous for Gerrard’s slip, something that to this day is considered as the moment that Liverpool lost their grip on the trophy.

The collapse of the Reds also came at a time that Henderson was unavailable though, and if it wasn’t for an over exuberant challenge on Samir Nasri they may have been champions that season.

His late red card in the 3-2 victory over eventual winners Manchester City meant that the midfielder missed three of their last four fixtures, as he had to sit on the sidelines and watch the title evade Anfield once again.

Rodgers completed his u-turn on Henderson by naming his as Gerrard’s successor, as he became the club captain ahead of the 2015/16 season.

His performances over a number of seasons should have been enough to change perceptions of the Red midfielder, but he continued to receive criticism from all angles.

According to his critics, Henderson didn’t score enough goals, create enough chances, couldn’t pass anywhere other than sideways and had very little to offer club or country.

His work rate wasn’t enough for those in the stands or in their armchairs, and the calls for him to be replaced continued as the reign of another manager began at Liverpool.

Klopp instantly recognised the importance of Henderson though, although he was forced to spend some time as a substitute as the German tried to find his perfect formula.

He continued to work harder than anyone on the field though, as he fulfilled any role that was asked of him, with the captain only concerned about the betterment of the team.

This season, more than any before hand, Henderson has underlined his importance to Liverpool, becoming the heart beat of a record-breaking team that is closing in on glory.

Whether he has been asked to fill in defensively for the attack-minded Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right-hand side, sit deep to protect the back four or occupy a more advanced role in-behind the front three – Henderson has excelled every time he has taken the field this season.

Finally the plaudits are starting to flood in for the club’s captain, albeit 356 appearances into his time on Merseyside, with calls for the midfielder to be crowned PFA Player of the Year.

Henderson has already been named 2019 England Player of the Year, and it is only a matter of time before he lifts the Premier League trophy, ending the club’s 30-year wait.

No-one can question his importance in helping Liverpool storm 22-points clear at the top of the league, and without the faith of Klopp it is hard to imagine that the former Sunderland midfielder would have fulfilled his potential.

Despite the constant criticism that has been thrown his way and the lack of faith that was shown early in his Liverpool career, Jordan Henderson has shown an incredible amount of determination to prove everyone wrong.

Even more significant than that determination though has been that in everything he has done, the club captain has put Liverpool Football Club first.

Henderson is a true leader and no matter how many accolades he collects at the end of the season, he is deserving of a place alongside the greats of the club.

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