What a momentous time to be a Liverpool fan. In case you missed it, somehow, Jürgen Klopp signed a new deal to stay with the club into 2026 - a full two more years after his original deal was set to expire. There’s been loads from the manager himself about how special it is to be with the Reds, and what a great thing they’ve got going at the moment, but of course, it wasn’t always that way. This self-proclaimed child of the Hodgpocalypse knows that all too well, and so does captain Jordan Henderson.
As one of five remaining players in the squad that made it to one of Klopp’s first finals in Red - the Europa Cup final against Sevilla - he knows exactly when things started to shift for the better for Liverpool.
Sitting in a crowded hotel bar in Basel, refusing to wallow in the loss.
“That night always sticks out to me, I always remember it,” Henderson told David Maddock.
“Going back to the hotel, all the lads were disappointed, you want to go back to your room, not see anybody, get your head down. But the gaffer was very different from what I had ever seen before. It always sticks in my mind. He had everyone together in the bar. I felt as though he knew it was the start of something special to come.
“As a player it is very difficult to think that when you’ve just lost a final. Yet he sort of knew what was coming in the next few years - and he has proven it was the start of something special.”
As fans, we remember the graft we went through (that legendary Dortmund match) to get to that point, when no one expected it out of us having just hired Klopp early in the same season. But a loss is a loss, especially a cup final loss, and even though no one had prepared to be at that point so early, it was bittersweet for players like Henderson.
“We didn’t see it, because we had just lost the final, we were devastated so it was more difficult as players to see past that moment. But that is why it stuck out because the manager was different, his mentality was different,” the captain continued.
“Yes he was disappointed, but I felt he knew it was the start, and I felt that confidence transmitted to the players and we used that as motivation to try and get better. That day always sticks out for us for sure and it has been pretty eventful since then! Hopefully that can carry on.”
2016 is miles away from 2022, and even though many people have pinpointed moments where Klopp’s vision had changed what Liverpool could be, could achieve, it was always the beginning, when things felt different than they had been. It didn’t take much to turn “doubters into believers” back in 2015 when Klopp arrived on Merseyside, and Henderson was right there in it having just been made captain that summer.
“I felt there was something special as soon as the manager came in, to be honest,” Henderson added.
“Everyone did. The whole lift he gave to the club, the team, the players. You felt it then. The manager had a very good way of seeing the bigger picture and using that experience to our benefit going forward.”
Things have certainly been exciting since then - and look to be exciting still as Liverpool are on the path to making history. Henderson, in his humble manner, downplays the quadruple talk, though. After all, he may know heartbreak better than the rest of the squad.
“People will talk about all the things we can win, but I know with a couple of bad games it can all be over. It’s a massive, massive few weeks, and we need to keep the mentality, the focus, because this is huge now.”
One more leg of a semi-final, another final, five more league matches, and potentially a third final to go. All thanks to that night in Basel.