Jordan Henderson sees all the ingredients for tonight's Champions League clash with AC Milan at Anfield to be an extra special occasion.

Liverpool begin their Group B schedule against the Serie A side with a capacity crowd set to experience a European contest in L4 for the first time in more than 18 months.

The Reds skipper is thrilled by the prospect, which is heightened, in his view, by the deeply rich history both clubs share in the competition and the rarity of their meetings.

“A European night at Anfield with fans. Wow,” Henderson says in his matchday programme notes, which were written before last weekend’s win at Leeds United.

“They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, but in this case we always knew. That’s why we’ve been so desperate to have these nights back.

“Tonight was always going to be special, no matter who the opposition was. The fact that our opponents are AC Milan only makes it even more special.

“I only found out the other day that this will be the first time our two clubs have met outside of a pair of Champions League finals and it really surprised me, but again rarity value will add to the sense of occasion.

“It always makes me massively proud when I see the ‘European Royalty’ banner on the Kop and this is a tie where such sentiments also apply to our opponents. The fact that only Real Madrid have won more European Cups tells us everything we need to know about AC Milan and what they have brought to this competition. Theirs is a name that speaks for itself.

“I know it’s been a few years since they were in the Champions League and they’re on a similar journey to one that we were on not so long ago, but I’m a big believer that the biggest clubs with the biggest reputations have some sort of institutional memory that makes them equipped for these competitions when they are able to qualify.

“So we won’t be expecting any looseners or opening-night nerves from Milan tonight. They will be right at it in the knowledge that they have the chance to make their mark at the very first opportunity. Just as we do when we go away to Europe’s most famous venues, they will see Anfield as a stadium to conquer and a place where history can be made and reputations enhanced.

“The incentives might be different for us, but they are just as great. The biggest of them all is the chance to create another European night to remember with our supporters. I know it is just the opening group game and nothing will be decided at this stage, but after being apart for so long I’m expecting a bit of extra electricity on and off the pitch.

“I think when the draw was first made a few people looked at our group and thought: tough. I know I did. But it is tough in a good way. Along with Porto and Atletico Madrid, there are four top teams and we are guaranteed a stern contest in every one of our six games.

“This is European competition in its truest sense and I know I’m speaking for all of the lads when I say we can’t wait to get going.”