Jordan Henderson’s World Cup heroics convince England fans about a player under-rated and unbeaten in 30 internationals

A captain in a Champions League final, a player who has not experienced defeat with his country for 30 matches, the pumped-up midfield leader of an England side about to play its first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

Maybe now, the entire nation has finally been won over by Jordan Henderson.

Gareth Southgate was won over a long, long time ago.

Henderson has always been fundamental to his plans and, against the potency of Croatia’s midfield here in Moscow on Wednesday, that will never be clearer.

Harry Kane has worn the armband with great distinction but there has been no-one more demanding, more vocal, more inspiring in his commitment to the cause, than the Liverpool captain.

There was a moment in the quarter-final when he chased down threatening Swedes, hoofed the ball away from danger and reacted with double-fisted elation, as though he had just scored a last-minute winner.

It’s Harry Kane who has the armband, but Henderson leads England by his actions
(Image: FIFA via Getty)

Henderson also led the rallying calls when Colombia took the first knockout game to extra-time.

He is far from unique in this, but it is clear the 28-year-old feels a special bond with this group of players.

As he sat alongside his coach on the eve of English football’s most important match in nearly three decades, Henderson’s evocation of this squad’s spirit sounded searingly genuine.

He said: “The biggest thing the gaffer’s brought has been identity — the way we wanted to play as a team. We were all on the same page straight away. That was the biggest thing… having an identity, getting to know each other even closer than previously.

Sweden looked sure to get a goal back in the quarter-final, but Henderson denied them…
(Image: AFP/Getty)
…sprinting across his own penalty area to close down Viktor Claesson…
(Image: Getty)
…blocking his shot before it got anywhere near Jordan Pickford’s goal
(Image: Reuters)

“That togetherness is clear now and is vital in big games. This is the most together England team I’ve been involved in, so that makes a massive difference. You get your rewards for that — we’re in the semi-finals of a World Cup.”

And they will be in the final too if Henderson’s run without an England loss, stretching back four years, continues.

He smiles: “To be honest, I wouldn’t look too much into it, because I don’t win on my own. We win as a team. Just as much as if I’d played and lost every match, it wouldn’t be my fault either.”

Southgate, though, is happy to sing Henderson’s individual praises.

Like Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp, Southgate thinks the world of Henderson
(Image: PA Wire)

The England coach says: “Jordan’s a player who has been underestimated for a long time. He has the total trust of his club manager, is an outstanding person with outstanding leadership qualities.

“The quality of his game has gone on to another level this season. His positional understanding, reading of dangers, seeing pictures with the ball, forward passes early. He’s playing at the top of his game and should have huge confidence. We’re very fortunate to have him.”

For all his qualities, it has to be remembered Henderson came up short when Luka Modric ran the Champions League final for Real Madrid at the end of May.

And he is fully aware of the threat that will be posed on Wednesday night.

It was the Anfield star not skipper Kane who joined Southgate at the final pre-match press conference
(Image: Daily Mirror)

Read More

England vs Croatia: The big one

He says: “I’ve played against Modric a few times, he’s a world-class player, one of the best I’ve played against. Hopefully he has a quiet night and we’ll try our best to make sure that happens.”

And Henderson will also be giving inside information about how to possibly expose his Anfield colleague Dejan Lovren.

He explains: “I’ll speak to the forwards and tell them what I think, but Dejan is a fantastic defender. I’m pleased for him that he’s in a semi-final, but hopefully that journey for him ends tomorrow.”

England hopes Henderson’s journey goes on but, in a way, it has reached some sort of destination.

The one where he has finally won the minds and hearts of the country.

poll loading

What’s your prediction for this one?

4000+ VOTES SO FAR






You might also like More from author

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.