James Milner retired from international football over the summer, but Liverpool’s vice-captain still keeps a close eye on England when internationals roll around and he was pleasantly surprised this week when news first broke that club teammate Jordan Henderson would captain the side against Slovenia.
“It’s amazing and fully deserved,” Milner told the club’s official website. “He’s a top player with a top attitude. He is a great captain here—obviously I’ve played under him for the last year. Last year times were tough when he was injured and desperate to be out on the field, but he was a great leader even when he wasn’t playing.”
Milner is fully convinced that having struggled through an injury-riddled 2015-16 season, when he spent much of the year out nursing a plantar fasciitis and clearly struggled to find form when he could play, Henderson is now an even better leader than he was before. He has been tested, and he has been doubted.
Now, he’s proven he can lead both Liverpool, where he has locked down the number six role in Jürgen Klopp’s 4-3-3, and England as well—at least whenever Wayne Rooney is sat out, as he will be for tonight’s World Cup qualifying match against the current joint-second side in Group F, which England lead.
“He has shown what a good captain he is really,” Milner added. “When things aren’t going well for you, that’s when your strengths come through as a captain. He showed that last year and obviously this year on the field he has been playing amazingly. He’ll be a great leader for England as well.”