EPL

Henderson an inspiration to future captains after leading Liverpool post-Gerrard – Klopp

By Sports Desk July 10, 2020

Jurgen Klopp championed Jordan Henderson as an "inspiration" to future Liverpool captains after taking over the armband following Reds great Steven Gerrard's departure and leading the club to an historic Premier League title.

When Brendan Rodgers appointed Henderson as his skipper in 2015, it appeared a daunting task for the former Sunderland midfielder because of who he was replacing.

Gerrard had been club captain for 12 years and became a homegrown hero having joined the Reds' academy as a nine-year-old, but he opted to spend the final year of his career in MLS with LA Galaxy.

Many felt it was a significant step down for Liverpool, with Henderson a player who has often polarised opinion in terms of his abilities.

But he remained an important player even following Rodgers' departure, which came shortly after handing Henderson the armband, with Klopp retaining him as the team's leader.

Although a knee injury will prevent Henderson from seeing out the final weeks of the 2019-20 season, he has still led the club to a maiden Premier League title and first top-flight crown in 30 years, and Klopp feels it highlights he has been a success in replacing Gerrard.

When asked if the Premier League triumph makes Henderson one of the club's all-time great captains, Klopp said: "He is, absolutely, but you know all the other captains of this football club.

"So, he's the only captain I've had here, so I'm overly happy this decision was made before I came in, so it's cool.

"How it always is in life, you have to grow in new roles, he had to do that. It was the most difficult job you can have, to enhance, because honestly, in whatever manner, the person doing the job after Steven was always going to be difficult, but he grew into the role and now I think he's an inspiration for the next generation of Liverpool skippers.

"And it's nice to be part of this development as well, because he became a man age-wise and then a real, proper captain and that's how it should be, and on top of that he improved as a player.

"He was always a good player but he made big steps in his game as well, and that's why you are massively under pressure from outside, expectations and stuff like this, it's a pretty interesting achievement I have to say, it's not easy to do, and he did it, so he should - after his career, when he looks back – have lots of reasons to be proud."

With Liverpool already champions, there is little left for the Reds to play for as a collective, but some players are still in with a chance of claiming individual prizes.

Alisson is in the hunt for the Golden Glove, while Mohamed Salah – and, to a lesser extent, Sadio Mane – are outside bets for the Golden Boots.

While Klopp would not want too much emphasis to be put on such accolades, he does acknowledge their importance and he feels they would reflect the success of the team.

Liverpool face Burnley at Anfield on Saturday.

"If Ali wins the Golden Glove, that means we have obviously - I don't know how many games - have a [lot of] clean sheets, which would really help us," Klopp said. "And if we provide the winner of the Golden Boot, it means we have a lot of goals, and that helps, absolutely.

"I'm not in doubt of that. My players don't need individual targets to be highly motivated, but they [the awards] don't disturb, they're absolutely helpful rather than anything else, but in the end it's all about winning a football match, that's what the boys really want.

"If it was different, I would tell them it's not okay. Personal accolades are important, really important, but it's always first and foremost about winning matches, not about the other stuff, but it's nice when you can win both."

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