An Ode to Jordan Henderson, Liverpool's Title-Winning Season MVP

Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson's achievements will go down in Liverpool's club history | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Throughout the season, Jordan Henderson has had one message for his teammates: one game at a time. Don't look further than the next fixture.

But on Thursday night, after it was mathematically confirmed Liverpool were Premier League champions, fans around the world watched the captain tear up during his interview with Sky Sports. Finally, he could allow himself to enjoy the culmination of a fantastic season, safe in the knowledge that his team couldn't be caught.

As well as winning Liverpool's first Premier League title, Henderson became the 14th title-winning captain in the league's history, joining a select group that includes Vincent Kompany, Roy Keane and John Terry (and, erm, Wes Morgan?)

It's not bad for someone who has been written off by many in the past for a range of reasons - whether it was because of his lack of creation, 'passive' presence in the middle or – to listen to Sir Alex Ferguson – his running style. Seriously.

We [United] noticed that Henderson runs from his knees, with a straight back. The modern footballer runs from his hips, and we thought this gait might cause him problems later in his career.

Sir Alex Ferguson

And even after Henderson signed at Liverpool in 2011, there were some within the club who felt he was not worth the £17m fee that it took to sign him. When Brendan Rodgers arrived a year later, he was quite prepared to move on from the Englishman - even telling him he would be heading to Fulham, as part of a proposed swap deal for striker Clint Dempsey. That move never materialised (poor Clint) and the rest is, as they say, history.

When Rodgers left in 2015, one of the many questions asked of Jürgen Klopp was whether he would strip the armband off the then-injured midfielder. His response was clear from the get-go: Henderson would remain the captain of his Liverpool side.

I did not have one second of a doubt about this...because it is logical for me. I've met him and he is absolutely a leader. Of course Hendo stays captain.

Jürgen Klopp in November 2015

Even if those outside the club couldn't see what the former Sunderland player brought to the table, Klopp's words were enough to show that he trusted him completely. This was a player who had never truly blossomed – but his new manager was ready to wait for him to recover fully and be a key part of his team.

Looking back, it's remarkable that even after that vote of confidence, many Reds fans felt their 'weak link' should be sold. His manager was taken aback by the scrutiny his captain came under, suggesting at one point that some were unfairly criticising him because of his leadership status.

It's fair to say now that few would question Henderson's worth for Liverpool - even if his goal or assist tally pales in comparison to others in the Premier League.

Jordan Henderson, Oliver Norwood
Henderson's presence is very much felt at Liverpool | Alex Livesey - Danehouse/Getty Images

He's not the flashiest player at Anfield, or the one who can score wonder-goals out of nowhere – but his dedication and willingness to run all over the pitch has been a perfect match for Klopp's high pressing system, and you can rely on him to snuff out opposing attacks, while also dictating the tempo for the Merseyside team when in possession.

The 30-year-old's presence at the club has grown tremendously over the years. Whether it's telling his attackers to help defend, or encouraging his team to fight on when trailing, he's become a magnetic personality who gets the respect and appreciation of his teammates, inspiring them to produce their best performances.

He's not just a midfield workhorse, a 'glue guy' though. It was he who scored a crucial equaliser at home to Spurs that paved the way for a late 2-1 victory in October. At Wolves, his goal and assist made him the match-winner in a tricky game at a very good opponent.

Jordan Henderson
The skipper produces when it counts, such as his equaliser against Spurs | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Was it coincidence that Liverpool's defending looked shakier than ever against West Ham in his absence? What about when he was forced to watch Watford run riot against his side in the following game? Maybe they'd still have struggled if he was on the pitch, but the sharp decline in his absence is notable.

He's not swashbuckling playmaker many think a central midfielder should be. Doesn't matter. His value cannot be questioned. He hasn't been the most individually outstanding player in the league this season, but he's been the most important.