Jordan Henderson's rocky beginnings as a Liverpool player did little to prepare us for just how important he would turn out to be for the Reds. An unnecessarily exorbitant fee combined with an ill-fated spell as a right-winger turned a significant portion of the fanbase against the former Sunderland midfielder, culminating in a — thankfully failed — proposal of a player swap with Fulham's Clint Dempsey.
That all changed during the Reds' unlikely title challenge in 2014, where Henderson's contributions in covering ground allowed his captain Steven Gerrard to sit deep and spring counters, safe in the knowledge that his mobility deficiencies wouldn't have disastrous consequences. Playing 90 minutes in every league game, Henderson was crucial to the Reds, and in the eyes of many, his three-match suspension was what eventually lost Liverpool their gold.
Still only 27, Henderson enjoyed perhaps his best season in red last year, this time in the single pivot of Jürgen Klopp's 4-3-3. Combining his game intelligence, engine and passing range with a deeper position on the pitch, the England man was essential to his side's success in the first half of the year. A worrying foot injury would sideline him for the last dozen games, however, and he has been looking forward to the coming season ever since.
“I’ve probably been waiting longer than everybody else,” the captain told the club's official site on the first day of pre-season training.
“They have been enjoying the break but I’ve been dying to get back into it because I missed the end of last season. That was disappointing but I’m very positive and dying to get back into the swing of things this pre-season.
“I’m looking forward to the hard work. I’m just glad to be back on the pitch, running and playing football, that’s the main thing.
"Hopefully I can stay fit," he continued. "We’ve got a couple of hard weeks ahead of us to get ready for the start of the season.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time to get back on the first day. I was excited to get out there this morning. Now we’re in the swing of things, I’m looking forward to training and getting as fit as I can, ready for the new season.”
“I managed to train throughout the whole time and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to now getting started properly.”
We hope you can stay healthy too, Jordan. Given TLO's long-standing love affair with the captain, it would be an even bigger letdown for us if his career were to peter out with persistent injury troubles now that he has finally arrived at the peak of his powers. Also, Liverpool's chances of success are augmented by his presence. So yes, no more ouchies, please.