Jordan Henderson will continue his dedication to securing trophies for Liverpool during what he believes can be a successful period for the club.
Seven years after he joined the Reds from Sunderland, the captain committed his future to Anfield by signing a new contract on Monday.
The midfielder is certain the best spell of his career is ahead of him and that the team he leads is primed to fulfil its obvious potential.
Immediately after penning the long-term deal at Melwood, Henderson discussed all that and more with Liverpoolfc.com.
Watch the chat on LFCTV GO or read a full transcript of the interview below.
Congratulations on a new long-term deal – how do you feel about it?
I’m obviously very happy, over the moon to sign a new contract for a long period of time hopefully. I’m delighted. 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. I feel as though it has been a progressive journey for me personally throughout my time here, one that I’ve enjoyed so much. For me, there is no other place in the world that I’d rather play football. I just want to be here for as long as I can really and hopefully beyond my contract I can stay for as long as I can. I’m so privileged to be part of this club for so long and hopefully for even longer.
Do you see that you’ll spend the rest of your career with Liverpool?
I hope so. That has always been my intention since I joined the club, with the size of the club and you come here and feel it is very special. Through the process and the time I’ve been here, I’ve just always wanted to play for this football club. There has been nowhere else I would ever think about going to. I want to do that for as long as possible. I know football changes so quickly; but for as long as Liverpool want me, I want to be here for as long as I can.
That would be a rarity, it’s a handful of players that get to do that…
Yes, especially at Liverpool Football Club – it’s such a unique place to play. It’s very difficult to play for that length of time. So I’m very proud of how far I’ve come in the seven years I’ve been here. But I know there’s still a lot more to give. I feel as though I’m getting into my prime now, I’ve benefited so much from the last seven years here and now I’m ready to go even further, be better and help this club become successful. That’s where all my energy is into: to win trophies. I would have liked to have won more, that’s one thing if I look back over my seven years. Trophies are a big thing, especially at this football club. That’s everything, that’s all my focus is: to try to help this team and this club be as successful as possible in the foreseeable future.
Do you feel your best years are still in front of you?
Yes, definitely. I feel the balance of experience and still feeling young. My fitness levels are probably the best I’ve been throughout my career. I know I’ve had little periods of injury since I’ve been here, a couple of years ago I had a blip in terms of injuries. But apart from that I’ve been pretty good in terms of fitness. I look at all the stuff I do in the gym and the things we work on behind the scenes, all my stats fitness-wise, and I feel they have improved even more and are at a high level. I want to continue to do that. But the most important thing is performance level and I feel my performance level over the past year has been at a consistently high level – and I want to maintain that and improve it.
What are your memories of your first day at the club?
There are still some similar feelings when I have come in today to sign a new contract. You think of back then when I was first coming in. Obviously they are totally different scenarios. But it’s still a similar sort of excitement to be signing a contract at this football club, still getting butterflies and being so delighted. I remember when I first came, everything was brand new and I was nervous to meet the players, the manager and everybody. It was like the first day at school. Now it feels a little bit more like home and a home I feel is going in the right direction, definitely over the last couple of years with the manager and the players. We’re going in the right direction and I want to be a part of that.
You were 21 then. What advice would your 28-year-old self give you back then? Would you have done anything different?
Not really – I feel have given everything. Every day I come into training and I give everything, 110 per cent in whatever I do. I feel I have committed my life to the football club over the last seven years and I just want to continue to do that. So, not much; maybe be more confident back then. Through my process I have gradually got more confident in myself as a person and my ability. That comes with experience and comes with games, I think. But when I see the young lads now, I always wish I was that confident back then, like they are. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, of course, but when you have got that confidence at a young age, it makes a big difference. That would be one thing. It took me a little while to settle in and maybe my confidence was knocked at the time. But having gone through that experience I came out the other side even stronger, which obviously gains confidence. And over the last few years, I’ve gained even more and now I’m as confident as ever. The gaffer helps with that obviously. Like I keep saying, I just want to be a part of what I think could be a special few years at this football club.
You had that confidence when it might have been easier to move to another club…
That was a different sort of confidence, I would say. That was more of the fighter inside me – that I would never give up, I would never give in, I’d always want to prove people wrong, I’d always want to be better and I’d always want to improve. It was a different sort of confidence. When I felt as though I was rock bottom, or I’d been hit or my confidence had been knocked, there would be something inside me that would then respond really well to that. That’s what happens in life; you’ve got to learn and I’ve learned a lot over the seven years so far. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more as well. I’m looking forward to it.
Do you feel you are truly appreciated now?
A lot of people talk about that outside but, for me, it only matters about the people that are important to me: obviously the manager and my teammates are the most important people that you need to be appreciated by. And I certainly feel that in abundance, which is the main thing. And obviously the fans as well; I feel I have had a very good connection with the fans because I’ve been here for a while. They have seen me through the transition of when it hasn’t been working out to when I started playing well, then injury, then coming back again. They have been there for me no matter what, which I’ve always appreciated. In general, the fans have been fantastic with me ever since I was a kid to now. I definitely feel that warmth from them as well; my kids were born here so I certainly feel that connection with the football club and the fans. I think they appreciate and know that I’ll basically dedicate my life for as long as I can to this football club to make sure we’re as successful as we can be.
You’re bringing young players through now as the captain. Have you taken what you learned from Steven Gerrard into that job?
Obviously I learned a lot from Stevie. As a player, first and foremost, how good he was in training and everything he had about him. When you’re playing with people like that, you’re going to improve naturally. But also off the field as well, the way he was as a person and the way he handled himself in certain situations, I learned a lot from him. He would always be there if I needed him. Little things that I picked up on at that age helped me grow and helped me be more confident. When you’ve got someone like Steven Gerrard backing you then that can definitely help you in terms of confidence. It’s amazing to watch someone at a young age and basically aspire to be like him, then be playing with him and then be his friend. I’d definitely call him my friend now, which is amazing really. I still keep in contact with him now and it’s good to see him doing so well up at Rangers. He has always been there and I feel like that’s one thing I hope I can be like here. I hope the players and the staff can come to me for anything at all and speak to me, and basically ask me for anything. I hope that’s the way they feel because I try and I want to be that way in terms of helping my teammates, not only younger players but anybody that I can. That’s part of my role and part of me as a person.
Does the feeling of leading Liverpool ever get any less special?
No. It’s very special. I keep saying, it’s special just to play for this football club, just to put the shirt on. To captain the side and lead the team out is even more special – and something that maybe I’ll appreciate more when I finish playing football, hopefully in a long time. When you’re involved you try to think about what’s important and there are other leaders in the team who help me. It’s not just me – there are four, five or six core players that help with the leadership within the dressing room and on the pitch. I think that’s really important in a top team, you need a lot of leaders within the group to achieve anything. That’s one thing I feel we’ve got here, and more and more young players coming through; someone like Robbo, who has just been given the captaincy of Scotland – which is a huge achievement for him and so good to be given responsibility like that – and then for him to come here and use that is a big plus for him and Liverpool. There are leaders coming through the group. It’s a very good camp, it’s a tight-knit group and that makes my job a lot easier.
What is your relationship like with Jürgen Klopp?
It’s very good. I could never speak highly enough of him. I don’t need to – because everybody knows and everybody does it. Whoever has worked with him will know how good he is. As a manager, tactically he is amazing. What he has done at this football club since he came in is phenomenal really, the transformation. That’s no disrespect to Brendan [Rodgers] and anyone before because we had some good times as well. But I look at the transformation from when he first came in to where it is now and it has certainly gone up in terms of everything. He has brought the whole club together – the fans, the players, the staff. The players he has brought in have strengthened the squad. He has made younger players and older players even better. He is such a massive influence. And he is another big reason why people want to play for this football club, to work with him, because he is one of the best – if not the best – manager in the world. You just want to learn so much from him, as much as you can and take everything in. If you do that and listen to what he has got to say and follow his instructions, I’ve got no doubt you’ll win trophies. That’s hopefully what we can do.
Is the sense that you have to mark it with trophies now?
It needs to be backed up on the pitch – you need to go and win games, you need to be more consistent and you need to win trophies. That’s what you’re going to be judged on as a captain, as a team and as a manager. I’m sure people will be looking at Liverpool because we are a very good team. But it’s: how good can we be? That’s up to us. That’s exciting. Hopefully we can go and prove to everyone how good we are, how good we can be, and get some silverware.
Finally then, what does it mean to commit your best years to Liverpool and what does this place mean to you?
I think I’ve spoken a little bit already about what it means to play at this football club. But, like I said, there is no other place in the world I’d rather play football than at Anfield or at this football club. It’s a special, unique place and I want to be here for as long as I can and just keep enjoying it, keep trying to improve the team and help the team any way I can to be successful and win – that’s what everybody wants. That’s what all my energy will go into. I’m excited, as is everybody else I’m sure after the start we’ve had. But there’s still a long way to go, we can still be even better and that’s probably the most exciting thing.