Footballer of the Year 2020: Jordan Henderson, Liverpool

Henderson joined his local club Sunderland aged eight and progressed through the youth ranks until he made his first team debut ten years later in 2008.

The 2009-10 season was Henderson’s breakout year, establishing himself in the heart of Sunderland’s midfield and receiving his first international call up for England. Henderson became a regular international squad player under Roy Hodgson and by the time of the 2014 World Cup was a nailed-on starter.

After three seasons with Sunderland, Henderson was transferred to Liverpool with whom he won his first major honour in 2012, the League Cup. Despite featuring in the majority of Liverpool’s matches that season Henderson was told he was free to leave the club with Fulham keen to sign the player. He decided to stay at Anfield and fight for his place in the side, how grateful Liverpool must be for that now.

Henderson made a mockery of those at the club who wanted to sell him, becoming a key player in the side and the natural successor to legendary captain Steven Gerrard in 2015.

Under Henderson’s leadership and Jürgen Klopp’s management the two have led Liverpool to European, World and domestic success. In a little over 12 months Liverpool have defeated Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019 Champions League final, gone on to win the UEFA Super Cup, the FIFA Club World Cup and ended the Reds 30 year wait for a League championship.

(Jordan Henderson celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League in 2019 – Martin Rickett/PA Images)

Henderson’s leadership has been vital throughout this success, joining fabled captains Hughes, Thompson, Souness and Gerrard as a club legend and European Cup winning skipper.

Henderson was the first Liverpool captain since Alan Hansen in 1990 to lift the League title and did so in extraordinary circumstances during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic also shined a light on another side of Henderson that previously the public had not seen, this was his charitable work.

Henderson was vital in rallying fellow club captains and establishing the #PlayersTogether collective that raised millions of pounds for the NHS and led the way in the Black Lives Matter campaign in football.

(Jordan Henderson lifts the 2019-20 Premier League trophy at Anfield – Phil Noble/PA Images)

The original voting criteria stated that the award would go “to the professional player who by precept and example is considered by a ballot of members to be the footballer of the year.“

Henderson most certainly lived up to this.

What Jordan said:

“I’d like to say how appreciative I am of the support of those who voted for me and the Football Writers’ Association in general. You only have to look at the past winners of it, a number of whom I’ve been blessed to play with here at Liverpool, like Stevie (Gerrard), Luis (Suárez) and Mo (Salah) to know how prestigious it is.

“But as grateful as I am I don’t feel like I can accept this on my own. I don’t feel like anything I’ve achieved this season or in fact during my whole career has been done on my own. I owe a lot to so many different people – but none more so than my current teammates – who have just been incredible and deserve this every bit as much as I do.”

What the writers said:

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