A few seasons ago, Jordan Henderson won many hearts and minds amongst Liverpool fans when news emerged that the young midfielder would often stay behind after training ended to put in an extra shift on the training pitch or in the weight room. Everyone loves a player who is thirsty to do well for his club and puts in the work needed to do so, and while one might hope every player has this kind of drive, that isn't always the case.
One who does is another J-man, Jordon Ibe. Liverpool players who haven't reported for international duty for friendlies, Copa America, or the U21 World Cup are generally off on vacation before regrouping ahead of the club's tour of Australia and southeast Asia, but not Ibe. No, Ibe is at Melwood, working with club's Academy director Alex Inglewood and none other than Kenny Dalglish on a wee spot of extra training. No big deal!
"Kenny Dalglish came in this morning and worked with Jordon Ibe and myself on a little bit of finishing," Inglethorpe confirmed. "Kenny literally just got a plane and came straight here. It’s incredible really. By chance I was just speaking to Kenny about something else. He landed at the airport at 10am and he was in here at 10.30am with his kit on and the boots on."
The curious contents of Dalglish's carry-on bags aside, it's excellent to know that Dalglish's influence is still being felt in tangible ways by at least one member of the current squad. Dalglish returned to the club in a director capacity late 2013, but like with many of the other legends kept on payroll by the club it has often felt like more of an ambassadorial role than a hands-on one.
"He was working with Jordon, passing some fantastic pieces of advice as you’d expect," Inglethorpe continued. "There were four or five of the U16s as well. What a day for an U16 – working with Kenny Dalglish, Jordon Ibe, on a beautiful sunny day, doing some good work. He’s looking to add to his game for sure, it’s very much driven by him, he’s turned up the last three or four days and I’d anticipate we’ll work again.
"He’s actually on his holidays but he wants to improve and get a bit better. He’s a really good lad and I think he recognises this is the beginning of his journey and he’s far from being complete. He’s still got a lot to do and a lot to work on, and it’s nice to know he sees that himself. It’s great to have a player who drives his own development."
Yes, it's a perfectly crafted story of a player digging in and working hard for the club in a summer where his teammate BFF is having a PR nightmare of an attempted transfer. Fortunately, that doesn't change the fact that Liverpool have in its squad a player willing to forgo the short term fun of some time off for the long term gain of improving his game at a very critical point in his career.