- Jordan Henderson hoping to captain Liverpool to a first global title
- Reds will meet Flamengo in Saturday’s Club World Cup final
- Huge 2019 comes off the back of a long road to glory
The story arc of Jordan Henderson’s eight-year Liverpool career has been playing out like an epic, slow-burning, sporting ‘box set’ television drama.
Starting with a much-lauded leading man, it has seen his character go from bright upstart to falling on hard times, before winning the audience over and potentially ending as one of Liverpool’s greatest stars.
Box set Season One: The bright new thing arrives on the scene. Having proven himself in his hometown of Sunderland, he’s thrust into the spotlight at Anfield with expectations he will replace the aging hero: Steven Gerrard.
Season Two: Our protagonist shows flashes of brilliance but struggles to live up to the weight of expectation. Only his determination and grit see him stay on the path to becoming the hero.
Season Three: After hard work and resilience he gets his rewards, replacing the departing legend as the new pillar of leadership.
Season Four: With our hero the guiding force, progress is made, reaching heights not seen since his old mentor was at his peak, ending in a euphoric and historic triumph.
Season Five: …
That latest tale is being played out as we speak. Should it finish where many believe it will, Henderson’s transformation into a club legend will be fully realised, achieving things that even the man he was touted to replace couldn’t manage. Saturday presents the first milestone in that storyline, with the leading figure having had sparkling reviews so far.
One more victory in Doha – against Flamengo in the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™ final – would make Henderson the first captain of Liverpool to ever see them earn the title of world champions. Even being entrenched in one of England’s most historic clubs, finding himself here must still be a surprise?
“Nothing is impossible in football,” the versatile midfielder told FIFA.com. “You always believe, and especially at Liverpool you want to win the best trophies, so I’ve always wanted to be in these competitions, challenging in every competition we play.”
There was an early twist to this chapter, however. With injury and illness having hit the squad hard in recent weeks, Henderson was forced to drop into the centre of defence for the very first time, having to battle in unfamiliar territory against the quick counters of Monterrey.
Liverpool fans will be hoping to see him back operating at the base of midfield for the final, orchestrating and breaking up play. But should his team need him to step back against South America’s fiercest front line, he’ll do so without hesitation. It’s “the kind of professional he is,” Andy Robertson summed up.
The Sunderland lad isn’t fazed by Gabigol and Bruno Henrique, though he’s well aware of the threat they pose. “We’re always confident going into games, no matter who we play, but at the same time we realise that Flamengo are a really good team with good players,” Henderson said.
“It will be really tough test, as it was the other night. So, a tough game but we’ve had a lot of them. We’ve analysed them and they’ve got a lot of strengths we need to be wary of. We’ll prepare like we always do, work on the things that we think that can hurt them and be ready to give everything.”
A unique chapter in the club’s history beckons, something that is hard to find for the six-time European and 18-time English champions. And Henderson knows a crack at being world champions is a rare opportunity.
“We’ve done a lot of work to be in this position, to come here and try to win the competition. It’s a final, it’s another trophy we can win, so we need to give everything to be able to do that.”
While the prospect of domestic glory glistens in a new decade, the Club World Cup provides the perfect opportunity for Henderson’s Liverpool story to end 2019 as a global hit.