Jordan Henderson EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool captain on Jurgen Klopp’s ‘mentality monsters’, being criticised every w
Jordan Henderson spoke exclusively to talkSPORT for a wide-ranging interview covering the early stages of his career all the way up to his greatest and most recent success – lifting the European Cup as Liverpool captain.
The interview was broadcast, in full, on GameDay Exclusive as talkSPORT previewed all the weekend’s football action and started to build up to the first of our three LIVE commentaries on Saturday – which you can listen to by clicking HERE!
You can read the highlights of Henderson’s chat with talkSPORT below, and also listen to the audio above…
HOW DID YOUR EARLY CAREER AND GOING ON LOAN HELP YOU?
“It was a big experience for me, at such a young age, going on loan to Coventry.
“The Championship is a difficult league and living away from home on my own, I thought it really put me in good stead going forward and becoming a bit more mature.
“And I really enjoyed my time there.
“I had good people around me, and had a good couple of months there. It ended badly with an injury, but overall I really enjoyed my time there, and it put me in good stead coming into the next pre-season when Steve Bruce came in.
“He had seen me playing for Coventry and had liked what he’d saw, so from thenm I got my opportunity [at Sunderland].”
YOU ARE LIVERPOOL CAPTAIN, BUT HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN A LEADER?
“At a young age I was always captain, so I’ve always been given that responsibility.
“It’s just the way I was brought up – the values from my parents and friends, the people I grew up with. I’ve had that responsibility for my whole life really.
“Having a younger sister, who I looked after when I was quite young… things like that mean I’ve always had that responsibility to look after people and I think people could see that.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING OFFERED TO FULHAM BY BRENDAN RODGERS?
“That was a crucial period in my career; not only my Liverpool career but my career in general.
“I thought that moment was big, and it was a tough moment, but one that I feel helped me, looking back now.
“I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have that moment. It was tough at the time but thankfully it worked out okay in the end.
“To be fair to Brendan, he was brilliant with me after that point; he helped me grow as a player and as a person, and I really matured under him.
“It was a blessing in disguise really.”
HOW DID IT FEEL BEING NAMED LIVERPOOL CAPTAIN?
“It was a huge honour. Especially at the start until I was named captain it was a whirlwind really, in terms of my progression as a player.
“Obviously he had seen the responsibility and leadership within me and felt I could lead Liverpool, and that gave me a lot of confidence.
“Without Brendan I wouldn’t be where I am today; he’s got a big part to play in my career so far.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE COMING SO CLOSE TO WINNING SILVERWARE, BUT FALLING SHORT?
“When you are at finals or going for titles and you are so close, but you don’t manage to get over the line, it is really difficult.
“But at the same time I always use that to the best of my abilities in terms of wanting to put it right.
“I always want to keep going and improve and go one step further, and I use it as a motivation to be able to get that opportunity again and again and again.
“And thankfully in the summer that was a big moment because after all the hard times when we missed out on [titles], we managed to get over the line.”
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FOR THE RECORD
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HOW DID YOU COPE WITH BEING CRITICISED IN THE PAST?
“In the past? I get it every week I think!
“That is something I have learnt to deal with over time. At a young age it is quite difficult to deal with, especially when you come to a club like Liverpool.
“It takes time to get used to, but then again now I quite enjoy it.
“You learn to enjoy it and you learn to use it as fuel, and I think that is really important. I’ve managed to do that for a long time now, and I plan to keep using that negative energy and criticism that people throw my way and try to turn it into a positive and prove them wrong.”
WHAT CHANGES DID KLOPP MAKE AFTER BEING APPOINTED MANAGER?
“Training times changed quite quickly, which was different. A lot of the time we would play late afternoon and night games, so it was totally different to what we were used to.
“At first it was a little bit of shock coming in at 4pm or 5pm and training late, and not having anything to do all day running up to it.
“But over time you get used to it and it is just normal now. That was a big change.
“In terms of Jurgen coming to this club, I felt a real positive energy when he walked through the door and I will always remember him saying he wants to turn doubters into believers, players, fans and everyone at the club.
“He just had a real aura about him, and that transected into the players and performances.
“I remember his first team talk at Spurs – I was injured but I was still there – and I was dying to play and get out on the pitch. I saw the change he made straight away in the first game, and over time that has improved and got stronger and better. And we still continue to improve now.”
WHAT EXACTLY DID KLOPP SAY IN HIS TEAM TALK BEFORE THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WIN OVER BARCELONA?
“That was another team talk which got all the lads really ready for that second leg.
“After the first leg we still had confidence. I felt, in terms of the performance, we were a little hard done by with the result because we performed really well on the night. So we took confidence from that.
“But we still knew it was going to be a big challenge to beat Barcelona, and I remember his team talk.
“He said, ‘if this was any other team you would be saying it was impossible, but because it’s us we’ve got a small chance’.
“I feel like the confidence that gave the team… every man was 100 per cent at it and confident and giving everything on the pitch. And we managed to get our reward.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE CAPTAIN OF THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS?
“It’s something I don’t think about too much.
“It was an incredible night and an amazing achievement for the team and for everybody involved, but in football I know how quickly things can change and you’ve got to keep working and improving to keep winning trophies.
“And that is what we’ve been doing, to be fair. We’ve been working just as hard, if not harder, than we ever have because now we’ve had a taste of that success we want it even more.
“We want to get back there again and win as many trophies as we can.”
WHAT ARE THE FANS LIKE NOW LIVERPOOL HAVE WON A TROPHY?
“The atmosphere at the ground and the fans have always been incredible since I’ve been at the club, even when we weren’t performing at the level we should have been.
“They’ve always been behind us and now I feel that when we are at Anfield and playing well, and the crowd are on it, it is really difficult to beat us.
“I think the crowd will be so happy with it [winning the Champions League], but they want more.
“We feel we are a good enough team to get more trophies, and the fans will think that as well.”
PEOPLE CALL LIVERPOOL ‘LUCKY’ – ARE THEY?
“People can call it whatever they want, I don’t really care as long as we keep winning and performing well. That is the most important thing.
“People will talk and criticise certain areas, but as a team we know what we need to improve on and we know what we can improve on, and that is a lot of areas in the game.
“But we also know that if we give everything we can beat anybody on their day, so it’s about being consistent and continuing to work hard and improve on the training field and doing exactly what the manager wants us to do to try and get the win.”
WHAT DID KLOPP MEAN WHEN HE CALLED LIVERPOOL ‘MENTALITY MONSTERS’?
“He means we never give up. You never know when we’re beaten – we will always, no matter what happens, keep going and staying together and fighting until the final whistle.
“I think that is something he has ingrained in us since coming to the club; always going until the end no matter what happens, and always keeping your composure and sticking to the plan we’ve been working on in training.
“And we’ve had some really good examples of that of late, with us going until the end and winning games. But we need to continue that right the way through in every game until the end of the season, because we need more moments like that if we want to be successful.
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ON SUNDAY’S MATCH AGAINST TITLE RIVALS MAN CITY
“Everybody will build the game up, because it is a big game. We know how good Man City are – they are a fantastic team – so it will be a really tough game for us.
“But its three points up for grabs like it always is in the Premier League, and we want to do everything in our power to make sure we take the three points away.
“Of course we will prepare for the game like we always do, and just try to go out there and give the best performance we can, and hopefully that is enough to win the game.”
WHAT IS THE RIVALRY WITH MAN CITY LIKE?
“For us the mentality has always been about ourselves; it’s always been concentrating on what we need to do and what we need to do better and improve on.
“If we give everything and play at the intensity we know we can play at, we feel like we can beat everybody.
“So it is always making sure we are at 100 per cent and doing everything possible to be in the best shape to be able to win the game.
“And then go out and do that, rather than thinking about other teams and other players. There are so many good teams in European and the Premier League that you would wear yourself out, so we just concentrate of what we need to do.”
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED?
“Winning. I always want to win, whether that is in training or in a game, I always want to do everything possible to help my team win games.
“Every time I play I want to leave everything on the pitch to help my team win.”
HOW DID IT FEEL TO CELEBRATE THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WIN WITH YOUR DAD, WHO HAD THROAT CANCER?
“It was very special; a moment I will never forget.
“Everything he had gone through over the past few years, the struggles he had gone through, I had seen him at pretty low points in his life so I know how much it means to him for us to win, and for me to play well.”
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