It’s a statistic that almost takes Jordan Henderson by surprise.
Almost, but not quite.
The Liverpool captain has been told he has reached the landmark of 250 league games for the club, a feat only achieved by five other players in the Premier League era.
He’s joined esteemed company on the list, too: Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia, Pepe Reina and Robbie Fowler.
But Jordan Henderson is not one for reflection. Not yet, anyway. Not when there’s still so much more for this Liverpool team to achieve.
Not when there are more pressing matters to focus on as Reds captain.
“Of course, I am very proud of playing for Liverpool that many times. But is it something I think about now? Not really, if I am honest," he tells Liverpoolfc.com during an exclusive chat.
“Right now, I just concentrate on doing my best for the team, concentrate on the next game – which is the most important one. The reflection will come at the end of my career, when I finish and look back.
“Of course, it is something I am immensely proud of and I hope I can play for this club many more times. 250 league games so far, but I hope there are many more to come."
Signing in: Henderson is unveiled as a Liverpool player in August 2011
Season 2019-20 is Henderson’s ninth one as a Liverpool footballer.
Signed as a raw 20-year-old from boyhood club Sunderland in June 2011, the north-east native has evolved both on the pitch and off it.
He played more games than anyone else in his second full campaign (48 out of 51), helped the club end a six-year wait for silverware in 2012, took the skipper’s armband from the outgoing Steven Gerrard in 2015 and hoisted the club's sixth European Cup aloft in June.
There’s been heartbreak, too: painfully close title challenges, cup final defeats and injury setbacks.
“It definitely has been eventful," Henderson says. "Overall though, it’s been an amazing journey so far, one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I think everyone would appreciate that no matter what – through the good and the bad times since I’ve been here – I’ve always given everything for the team, for the club. And that’s what I will continue to do, it’s the most important thing; continue to work every day for the team, the club, the fans, for everyone.”
Of course, there is one moment that dwarfs all others in Henderson’s Liverpool story to date.
The 29-year-old puffs his cheeks as he begins to revisit having the most prestigious trophy in club football in his hands after an intense Champions League final at Estadio Metropolitano. Typically, he does not dwell on the personal honour of that evening, rather spotlighting what it meant for everyone else associated to Liverpool.
“It’s a bit of a blur, I was very emotional straight after the final whistle,” he explains. “The feeling you get is something that I cannot really describe… it’s the best feeling in the world in football. Every time you think about it or look back, you get goosebumps and you think about how special it was.
“That’s just another reason for us to want to get back there and experience it again. To lift the trophy was a huge honour, of course, but it was more about the win, how much it meant to the lads, I can see how much it means.”
The collective joy around Liverpool’s Champions League glory, where everybody connected with the club - players, staff, supporters - shared in the elation, touched Henderson.
“Everyone has their own story and as a captain, I look at things like that – I can see how much it means to certain individuals and why. We’re all human beings with lives and families, so away from the pitch things will go on that people probably don’t know or don’t see.
“From within the dressing room, you see it first-hand so I knew how much it meant to us as a team and certain individuals. Even for the coaching staff and also the club as well, there are so many good people within the club that you want them to be proud. You want to do them proud. And then, of course, the fans deserved it.
“For everyone involved, it was just about the whole experience of doing it – that was the biggest thing for me. That’s taking nothing away from me lifting the trophy, of course, because that’s a moment I will never forget. It was a unique moment for me, an unbelievable honour, an amazing one, but to be able to do that on behalf of the team was so special because I know how much it means to everyone. It’s something that can never be taken away from us as a team. Having had a taste of that, I can see the players’ hunger to want to win more and achieve more for this football club."
Such cherished memories aren’t only confined to that unforgettable night in the Spanish capital.
The following afternoon, an estimated 750,000 people lined the streets of Liverpool to welcome their European Cup-winning heroes home.
“When you come back and see things like we did in the city centre, when the fans were out in their numbers during the bus parade, that is so unique and so special that you want to do it again. It just gives you that extra little bit, that you’re going to do even more, work even harder, to have that opportunity again. It’s been a great start, especially in the Premier League, but we need to continue in that way for a long, long time."
The magnitude of what Liverpool achieved in the Champions League – and their current standing within global football – isn’t lost on Henderson.
“I always knew how big the club was, but I think you realise it even more when you’re in it – especially your initial reaction, when you’re on tour and stuff. That was pretty big for me as a young player, not really used to that sort of thing on a pre-season tour. My first one was in Asia and there were incredible scenes, something where you think, ‘Wow!’ There are just fans all over the world, wherever you go there are Liverpool fans.
“That’s just part of Liverpool Football Club as a worldwide family that has had a lot of fans and fanbases for many, many years. I feel as though our team over the last couple years can help enhance that with the performances, the success… and hopefully there is more of that to come in the future.
"With the success we’ve brought, I feel there’ll be young kids watching and they’ll want to support Liverpool because they like the way we play, they like the players in the team, there are no egos, there are no bad eggs within the team. I’d imagine there are a lot of young kids looking up to a lot of players in our team for different reasons. Maybe not so much me, but the bigger stars in the team!
“They’ve got so many role models to look to. The more success you bring, the more that grows, it gets bigger and bigger. You’ve got to do it over a long period of time, though – and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Henderson has searing focus on helping deliver more silverware, which he feels is what’s necessary if this roster of players are to go down in history alongside the legendary names of the club’s past.
“At the moment, people can talk about the moment we had in Madrid, but I don’t think as a team that’s enough for us,” he asserts. “We want people to be talking about us in 10 or 15 years’ time saying, ‘Can you remember when they won this trophy and that trophy?’ That’s how we want to be spoken about as a team because I believe we are a fantastic team and can be as successful as we want to be if we keep going in the direction we’re going in, keep improving and working hard.
“There is still more to come. It’s up to us and we want to make sure people are talking about us not only for the Champions League, but for many other trophies as well. I know it’s easier said than done – of course I do, I have been here a long time and I understand that – but there is no reason why we cannot go for it, go for everything, because we have such a fantastic team, such a fantastic manager, so we’ll try to do our best to go for everything.”
High five: Captain and manager embrace at Anfield
One unmistakable hallmark of this Liverpool team is mindset. Remarkably, over the last 38 league games, they’ve tallied 101 points and lost just once.
‘Mentality monsters,’ is the tag Jürgen Klopp has given his players for their unrelenting resilience.
“Our mentality is just as important as the technical ability of the team,” Henderson concurs. “I think everybody sees how talented the squad is, how many good players we’ve got in the team, but mentality is huge in football.
“We’ve got a lot of good leaders in the squad, a lot of great lads with a fantastic attitude towards football and the way they live outside of the game, so that’s really important when you’re playing every three days to make sure you’re doing everything you can to be 100 per cent for the next match. We’ve got that. Everyone is pushing each other, everyone wants to play, we’ve got that big of a squad with great players that it might change from time to time and players might rotate, but you want to keep improving, keep playing and keep doing the best for the team to ultimately win trophies.”
‘Blocking out the noise’ is another core characteristic of this squad. How is that achievable in an era of social media, mobile phones and 24-hour television coverage that drums up expectation and hype?
“You try not to read as much on social media and stuff like that,” the captain explains. “The manager is really good with that. He makes sure the focus in training is 100 per cent no matter what competition or who we’re playing. It's not about what people on the outside are saying, it's about what we do. Every training session is 100 per cent focus and 100 per cent concentration. That’s really important, that’s big for us.
“We’ve got great characters in the dressing room, great leaders in the dressing room, who can lead that and make sure that level doesn’t drop, the standards are set every single day. When you do that over a period of time, you get into the routine of doing that and then it becomes easier and easier.
“Now and again, someone might have to do something just to remind someone, or the manager might say something to make sure that standards are not dropping and the focus remains at 100 per cent. Now and again, you do need that, but overall we have a great squad that are always focused and are always wanting to achieve more."
Henderson believes an essential ingredient to Liverpool's success is that the team is not just stocked with phenomenal talent, but phenomenal people too.
“I like to see others doing well here, especially with things like the awards certain players have been getting - and rightly so,” he says. “That means a lot to me and it’s good to see the recognition people get for how well they do on the football pitch.
“I know what these lads are like off it as well, so that’s why I am always going to be a bit biased because there is not a player in the dressing room that I think doesn’t give everything or work as hard as they possibly can and fit into our way of playing and our way of being as human beings.
“Just being around a training camp, for example, and you see the way they interact with people, or when we’re at Melwood and you see it with the likes of Carol and Caroline in the canteen, the kitchen staff, the receptionist or even the club media team. Everyone is involved and I feel as though our players are very respectful towards them all.
“That’s a big thing for me because you can be a top player or brilliant on the pitch, but you’ve got to respect people off the pitch and not get carried away with yourself. Making sure you are respectful as a team. You have to make sure that you do appreciate what other people do. I always see that and it makes me happy as a captain of the team, even just as a player of the team to see it, because that’s the way it should be in my eyes. That’s the way it should be for Liverpool Football Club and the way it always has been.
“I love to see us getting it right on the pitch and I know that’s the most important thing, but it’s also nice to see us getting it right off the pitch and I hope that can continue.
“It’s no coincidence that when you do things right off the pitch, it can only help on the pitch as well.”
Henderson's 250th top-flight appearance for Liverpool was ribboned by a 3-1 victory over Manchester City at Anfield.
Despite still feeling the remnants of illness that kept him out of the home Champions League fixture with Genk, the No.14 produced a dynamic performance against the reigning champions, crowning it with a sublime assist for Sadio Mane’s second-half header.
Not a bad way to mark reaching that quarter-of-a-century.
“I’ve had bits of injuries, especially when Jürgen first came in – probably the worst time in terms of injuries for me – but, touch wood, apart from that I feel as though I have been fit for the majority of my time here so far.
“Again, as I said earlier, it’s not something I think about too much. 250 league games is a lot of games, but I just concentrate on the next one and in the future I hope we’re sitting here talking about 300, 350, 400 league games for Liverpool.
“You never know what is around the corner, but I am hoping there are a lot more games to come because I feel in a good shape and in a good part of my career. I feel as though there is more to come from me.”
With the internationals now over, Crystal Palace become the subject of Henderson’s – and indeed Liverpool’s – focus as Premier League duties resume at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
“Look, we know we’ve made a good start and we’re in a good position, but we also know there’s still a long, long way to go and we won’t be carried away,” Henderson says of the club's eight-point lead at the summit.
“Focusing on the next game, the next job, has served us well so for, so why should we change from that? All we’re looking at now is Crystal Palace and nothing else.
“The same as we do for every game – we stay focused on what we need to do.”