Jordan Henderson has spoken of his gratitude to Brendan Rodgers as he prepares to return to Anfield for the first time since leaving Liverpool in 2015.
The 46-year-old brings his Leicester City side to Merseyside for the Premier League encounter with the Reds this afternoon.
And ahead of the meeting, Henderson has detailed how Rodgers’ influence during his time as Liverpool boss helped develop him as a player.
He wrote in his column in the official matchday programme: “There is little room for sentiment in football and today I have no doubt at all that the manager in the away dugout will have as much desire to win here as we all have in looking to beat his side.
“That said, it’s impossible to ignore the person, along with key staff members, returning to Anfield this afternoon for first time since they left Liverpool. For 90-plus minutes we are opponents, but the only way to describe Brendan Rodgers, Kolo Toure, Chris Davies and Glen Driscoll is as returning friends – and as people who did a lot to help not just this club as a whole but a number of individual players within it, myself included. I know they’ll get a warm welcome before and after the game.
“I will always be grateful to Sir Kenny Dalglish for having enough belief in myself to bring me here in the first place. But as well as Sir Kenny, Brendan played a massive part in my Liverpool career and development as a player here.
“It’s already apparent that Brendan is doing for the Leicester players what he did for us when he came to Liverpool. It’s obvious how much the lads there have bought into what he and his staff are looking to create and achieve, and it’s genuinely no surprise to me that they’ve made such a positive start to this season.
“In the three years-plus I spent working for Brendan I learned so much from him. He was massively generous when it came to giving time to explain what he wanted from you, in terms of improvement and development.
“I mentioned the faith Sir Kenny showed in offering me the chance to become a Liverpool player, and I have the same appreciation to Brendan for making me captain. I was still relatively young at that time and I’m sure there would have been ‘safer’ choices to make.
“That he chose to hand me the armband sums up the impact Brendan had here: he made us all believe in ourselves and push ourselves to be better. It’s fantastic to see Kolo working by his side now as well and I’m sure the supporters will be made up to see him back at Anfield. When you share a dressing room with Kolo as a teammate, it isn’t hard to see why he achieved so much in his career as a player. His standards were unbelievably high and he was always keen to help the other lads.
“It’s no surprise he’s become a coach now – and a successful one with Brendan – because you could tell as a player he had both that knowledge about the game and the ability to explain it and pass it on.
“Chris Davies and Glen Driscoll were key members of Brendan’s staff while at Liverpool, too, and have remained just as important to him at Celtic and Leicester. Both were massively respected by the players during their time with us and again, it’s great to see them doing well and playing such a big part in Brendan’s success.
“Of course, as I pointed out right at the beginning, friendships are on hold for the game itself. I know all four well enough to know they’ll be desperate to come here and get a result. Not because it’s about making a point to Liverpool, but because everything they do is about getting the best results for their team.
“That team is now Leicester City, but they’ll come up against a team who are also desperate for the result, as we always are regardless of who or where we play. Today is no different. There are three more points up for grabs, we want them and we’ll do everything we can to try and get them.”
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