Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson has been named the Football Writers’ Association Men’s Footballer of the Year award.
The 30-year-old beat Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford and teammates Virgil Van Dijk and Sadio Mane to the prize.
As well as making his presence felt in 30 Premier League games this season as Liverpool have surged to the title with an 18-point lead at the top of the table, Henderson led by example off the pitch during football’s three-month shutdown due to coronavirus.
He spearheaded the #PlayersTogether initiative during the lockdown which saw players team up with to raise money for Britain’s National Health Service.
“I accept it on behalf of this whole squad, because without them I’m not in a position to be receiving this honour. These lads have made me a better player, a better leader and a better person,” said Henderson.
“If anything I hope those who voted for me did so partly to recognise the entire team’s contribution.”
As well as the top five, 10 other players received votes from FWA members.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alisson Becker, Raheem Sterling, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Sergio Aguero, Adama Traore, Danny Ings, Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Jonny Evans were all nominated.
Captain Jordan Henderson says Liverpool must answer critics who claim they are faltering at the crucial moment in their Premier League title bid by improving their performances on the pitch.
A goalless draw in Sunday’s derby at Everton left Jurgen Klopp’s side a point behind Manchester City, with their destiny no longer in their own hands for the first time since December.
Liverpool, seeking a first English top-flight title since 1990, have lost just once in the league this season but have taken only 10 points from a possible 18 over the past six games to hand the initiative to the defending champions.
But Henderson dismissed suggestions they were feeling the pressure and said only actions and not words, as shown in the 3-0 and 5-0 victories over Bournemouth and Watford last month, mattered.
“It’s no good talking about it, we have to respond on the pitch,” said the England international. “There are nine games left so plenty of football to play and it is down to us to do the business on the pitch and win as many games as we can.
“Football is a lot to do with mentality. Obviously talent, which we’ve got in abundance, but we need to show mentality in the next nine games, plus the Champions League, that we can achieve what we want to achieve.”
Henderson said the fact the initiative was now with Pep Guardiola’s side made no difference to their thinking.
City still have to play Tottenham and go to Old Trafford in back-to-back league matches, are also still involved in two cup competitions and have picked up injuries to key players.
Liverpool host Spurs and Chelsea and play six of the current bottom seven in the Premier League, as well as aiming to go the distance in the Champions League.
“There have been one or two games where we have maybe dropped below the standards we have set, but overall I think we’ve given everything and we’ll carry on giving everything until the end of the season and fingers crossed it’s enough to win,” said Henderson.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson signed a new long-term contract with the Premier League leaders on Monday.
Henderson has emerged as a key figure under Reds boss Jurgen Klopp and the new deal is a reward for the England midfielder’s fine form.
The 28-year-old has made 283 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 24 goals, since arriving from Sunderland in 2011.
He took over the Liverpool captaincy from Steven Gerrard in 2015, leading the team to last season’s Champions League final.
With the deal reported to be for five years, Klopp hailed Henderson’s contribution under his management.
“It is fantastic news but should not be a surprise to anyone – he is perfect for us and we for him, I think,” Klopp said.
“Jordan embodies entirely what it means to be a Liverpool player in this modern era of football.
“You can tell through his actions on and off the pitch he treats representing our badge and our shirt as a privilege.
“He takes nothing for granted and strives to learn and be better for his team at all times.
“He carries a lot on his shoulders that people on the outside won’t see, but he embraces that responsibility and that leadership. He is our ‘General’ and I trust him completely.”
After being rested following England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals, Henderson made his first start of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 win at Leicester which ensured Liverpool’s best opening to a campaign since 1990-91.
“It doesn’t seem like too long ago when I signed my first one – it feels like yesterday, really – but a lot has happened since then,” Henderson told Liverpool’s website.
“I feel it’s been a progressive journey for me throughout my time here and one I’ve enjoyed so much.
“There is no other place in the world I would rather play football. I want to be here for as long as I can be.
“I’m so privileged to have been a part of this club for so long, and hopefully even longer now.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has criticised England boss Gareth Southgate for overusing Jordan Henderson during the recent World Cup qualifiers.
Klopp is frustrated that Liverpool captain Henderson played the full 90 minutes in England’s matches against Slovenia and Lithuania.
The German was particularly unhappy with the midfielder’s selection for the fixture against Lithuania, which was played on an artificial pitch, because England’s World Cup place was already secured.
Henderson has had to cope with a troublesome heel problem which saw him miss the final three months of last season, and Klopp fears the needless workload puts him at risk.
“England played a friendly game on an artificial surface — it was a qualification game but they had already qualified — and I was not happy that Hendo was on the pitch to be honest with all the problems he’s had in the past,” said Klopp.
“It made no sense. We cannot be involved in this. They all make their own decisions.
“No manager of a national team asked me so far before a game, ‘How would you line up?’.
“We watch it, we wait until they come back and we take what we get.”
Klopp had already suffered a major blow over the international break with the loss of forward Sadio Mane for up to six weeks.
Mane sustained a hamstring injury sustained in the 89th minute of Senegal’s World Cup qualifying win over Cape Verde.
“He is the highest-quality player and was very unlucky with injury,” Klopp said.
“But we can play without him even if we would love to have him in the line-up.”
With in-form Manchester United visiting Anfield on Saturday, Klopp was relieved to learn Brazil internationals Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino arrived back on Merseyside with no fitness problems.
Coutinho and Firmino were flown home on a private jet also containing Chelsea and Manchester City’s Brazilian contingent.
“Phil played two games, Roberto played about five minutes so it is different. They should be OK,” Klopp said.
“They both had a long flight, even if it was pretty comfortable I am sure. I was not in the plane but I can imagine as I saw the price.
“The club has done everything to bring the boys back. We worked really closely with other clubs in this region to bring all the South American players home together.”