Honest, decent, modest, hard working and talented: if every player was like Hendo, the game wouldn’t be in the PR-mess it is now
The Sunderland lad had his critics last season as he tried to settle at an unsettled Liverpool Football Club but take a closer look at the facts and the facts make interesting reading. Far from having a nightmare year, the player was named England’s Under 21 captain, won Liverpool’s Young Player of the Year, helped the club to win its first silverware in five years and took the place of the injured Frank Lampard in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2012 squad. His hard work now looks to be paying off for club and country and, although Brazil may come too soon for him. Don’t bet against Jordan Henderson proudly leading out the Three Lions in France in 2016.
Topman Generation: Jordan, you’re now a regular part of the England setup, how confident are you about reaching the World Cup in Brazil?
Jordan: I think the senior team is doing very well, they’ve got some good results of late and are playing some good stuff. They’ve got to be pleased with how things are going, and hopefully it will only improve.
Topman Generation: You replaced Frank Lampard in the squad for Euro 2012, what did you learn from the experience of going to the tournament?
Jordan: Yeah, there were a lot of things that I learnt when I was involved in the tournament. You can’t help it when every day you’re working with players like Rooney and Gerrard. It was a massive experience for me, I learnt a lot and it gave me a lot of confidence.
Topman Generation: How does it feel to captain your country at U21 level? What type of captain are you?
Jordan: It’s obviously a great honour to captain your country at any level. It’s a really proud moment when you’re leading the team out and hopefully I can do that a few more times in the European Championships in the summer. What type of captain am I? I don’t know really, you’ll probably have to ask the players, but I just tend to be the same. It doesn’t really change the way that I am, everybody in the U21s gets on really well and it’s a good group, so like I say, you’re best off asking one of them what type of captain I am.
Topman Generation: How easy is the transition between youth levels to senior international duty?
Jordan: There is a difference so you’ve got to be ready to move up to the senior level. I think the games and the football you play at tournaments with the Under 21s gives you great experience for going into the senior team though.
Topman Generation: When you were growing up who was your footballing hero?
Jordan: Steven Gerrard.
Topman Generation: What’s it like playing alongside your childhood hero and what have you learnt from him?
Jordan: Obviously Stevie has been at the top, top level for many years now and he’s still trying to improve every day, and keeps getting better. It’s an honour to train with him and to play with him as well. He’s definitely given me confidence in my game and helped me to learn things from him.
Topman Generation: We’ve heard a story about you meeting Ryan Giggs when you were a kid, what was it like to go from that to playing against him?
Jordan: Yeah, I met him when I was really young. Playing against him was a bit strange, because I’ve always wanted to do that. It was a great feeling for me personally. I’ve played against many good players as well and to be playing alongside people like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, and training with them every day is a good feeling.
Topman Generation: Were you always dedicated to football or did other things get in the way?
Jordan: I’d say I was pretty dedicated. It was all I ever loved doing really, going out with my mates playing football and practicing the thing that I loved doing.
Topman Generation: Having grown up in Sunderland, and then joining them when you were very young, did you ever envisage leaving your hometown club?
Jordan: It wasn’t an issue really. It was obviously a big decision at the time, but at the end of the day it’s Liverpool Football Club and it was a massive opportunity. Since I’ve been here I have loved every minute and I feel as though I’ve become a better player, which is one of the reasons why I came here and the club is definitely going in the right direction, so hopefully I can be a part of that.
Topman Generation: Who are your best mates, in and out of football?
Jordan: I’ve got a couple of very good friends who I grew up with through school, so I’m very close to them. In football, there’s David Meyler at Sunderland, Fraizer Campbell, Danny Welbeck, and then at Liverpool there’s Andy Carroll.
Topman Generation: Any hobbies away from football?
Jordan: Probably playing on FIFA, the odd time I’ll try and go out for a game of golf but that doesn’t come around very often and I’m not the best.
Topman Generation: How would you describe your personal style?
Jordan: Normally it will be jeans and a T-shirt, casual during the day, and the odd time I’ll wear a shirt. In terms of brands I like Jacob Cohen, just because they’re comfortable and a nice material. If there’s one item I can’t live without it’s my trainers.
Topman Generation: Who’s the worst dressed player for Liverpool and England?
Jordan: The worst dressed player for Liverpool I’d say is José Enrique. For England though, we’re in our tracksuits all the time so we don’t really see each other’s gear.
Topman Generation: How does the central midfield role differ under Rodgers’ style of play compared to Dalglish and other managers that you have worked with?
Jordan: He wants us to play out from the back - when it’s right to do so. You can see from the games that we’ve played everybody wants to get on the ball, with the centre-mids dropping in deep to get on it as well. It’s really good because you get a lot of touches and you can start the play off for the team.
Topman Generation: There’s a great crop of youngsters at Liverpool at the moment. How good are players like Raheem Sterling and Suso?
Jordan: Yeah. They’re very talented young people and they’ve got a great attitude towards the game as well, so they’re going in the right direction for sure. But they just need to keep their head down, keep working hard and keep trying to improve every day and I’m sure that there will be a bright future at Liverpool Football Club for them.
Topman Generation: If you could go back and give young Jordan Henderson advice, what would you say?
Jordan: Good question… Erm, keep smiling, and enjoy what you do!