International football may not be the highest priority for Liverpool fans, but to captain your country is a huge honour and recognition of some leadership qualities. As Wayne Rooney won’t be starting for a number of reasons too lenghty and tiresome to list here, Jordan Henderson will captain England against Slovenia tomorrow.
The 26-year-old will lead his nation for the first time in his thirtieth senior appearance and is in his second season as Liverpool captain. A player who built a reputation for durability as well as stamina endured uncharacteristic injury worries over the last two seasons but looks back to his best in a new role as a deep-lying midfielder in a midfield three.
Henderson excelled in the first game after the hilariously brief Sam Allardyce era and deservedly picked up the man of the match award against Malta. His form for Liverpool and England makes it hard to ignore his claims as captain in the absence of Rooney, and this could be the first step in eventually succeeding the Manchester United stalwart at some stage. Interim manager Gareth Southgate explained why he plumped for the man who currently captains England’s most successful club.
“What stood out for me was that he has captained a football club where he had to take over from one of the most iconic figures in English football,” Southgate said. “That will have been a difficult challenge for him. I think he has matured from that and shown great leadership skills with his club. He is used to being the captain, which is also important I think.
“And within this group of players he has got a voice and an opinion, very clear ideas on what he thinks we need to work on and good tactical understanding. [It was] not an easy decision because there are other senior players in that dressing room. But because he is captain at a big football club and is used to that responsibility, it was the right decision, for me.”
Congratulations to Jordan Henderson and hopefully he uses this milestone as a platform to grow in stature. A professional, hard-working, intelligent, and underrated player who looks to be making the steps that many thought he would at the end of Liverpool’s title tilt at 2013/14. Has Hendo finally arrived?