Rickie Lambert has not been surprised to see Jordan Henderson blossom into a trophy-winning captain for Liverpool.
The pair were teammates at Anfield for one season – 2014-15 – as Lambert joined his boyhood club after five goal-laden years with Southampton.
It was in the September of that campaign when Henderson was appointed Reds vice-captain ahead of his promotion to skipper the next summer.
His talent and dedication made a lasting impression on Lambert, one that made the scenes in Madrid last June – when the midfielder lifted Liverpool’s sixth European Cup – particularly poignant.
“Brilliant, a lovely lad. I loved Hendo. A great professional,” Lambert told Liverpoolfc.com.
“I’ve always been a big admirer of Jordan. When I first saw him – technically superb, mentally superb and physically superb.
“It was always going to be a little bit difficult taking over the reins from Stevie G. I thought he handled it brilliantly; he just kept his head down, came through it better, stronger and more determined.
“To see him lift the European Cup made me a little bit emotional. Seeing Adz [Adam Lallana] go over and hug him, it was a bit emotional because I know where he’s been.
“I was quite close to Hendo and obviously Adz when I was here. To see them two like that and especially Hendo lifting the trophy was unbelievable.”
Having been in Kiev as his side were beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League final a year earlier, Lambert was back in the stands at Estadio Metropolitano for Liverpool’s second tilt at the trophy.
He toasted the Reds’ 2-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur before hurrying home to greet the European champions as they paraded the cup through the city.
“Madrid was more relief, the pressure was on us to win it. It was 1-0 – I don’t think we played our best game but neither did Tottenham, it was more professional, doing what we needed to do – and then obviously Origi popped up and sealed it,” he recalled.
“Then you could actually celebrate. You were celebrating the moment and singing but you could truly celebrate when Origi scored because you knew you’d won the sixth European Cup.
“And I managed to get an early flight straight after the game, got back, had about an hour’s kip and then saw them. I was on The Strand. That was an emotional day.”