Jürgen Klopp paid a heartfelt tribute to Jordan Henderson and thanked him for his role in Liverpool’s success during his time as manager after his 12-year Anfield career came to a close today.
It was confirmed on Thursday afternoon the midfielder would be leaving the Reds to join Al-Ettifaq.
Henderson does so after 12 years with Liverpool, during which time he made 492 appearances and made a significant contribution in the additions of eight honours to the trophy cabinet.
Indeed, a year after hoisting aloft the Champions League trophy in Madrid, Henderson became the first Reds captain in 30 years to raise the league title as the team swept their way to Premier League glory.
Now, as he departs the club, Klopp has hailed the contribution the England international has made during his tenure and admitted: “We will miss him.”
Read on for our chat with the boss…
Jürgen, it's been announced that Jordan Henderson is leaving Liverpool Football Club. How do you feel now it is time to say goodbye?
In the moment, it is absolutely fine but it was already ongoing for a while now, so we had time to adapt to it and get used to it. It is football, it is life, it is normal, these kind of things happen. Monday when we arrived back in Liverpool, Hendo was waiting for us to say goodbye properly to the team and to the coaching staff as well, so that was a really nice gesture - a really nice thing to do. I know it was a really, really tough decision for Hendo and I was around or with him all the way. It's sad, absolutely strange, because he is the only captain I had here at Liverpool, but I think it is exciting for him as well. We will miss him, without a shadow of a doubt, that's clear - as a man and as a player. But, as I said, that's football.
Take us back to when you arrived, Jordan was the captain, what do you remember of him and how much has he changed since then?
Hendo was injured when I arrived here. Seven-and-a-half years later, knowing him that well, it must have been for him an absolute nightmare because obviously [he was] still new-ish in the role of a captain and then Hendo's desire to prove himself constantly, on and off the pitch, then a new manager is coming in and he could do neither nor. For him, for sure, it was horrible - you would have to ask him properly about that, but I am pretty sure. I remember he came into my office and asked me if he could come with us for the first game against Tottenham. Only later on, I realised that's quite common in England: that players ask for away games and stuff like this. We did that a couple of times with Millie later, but at that time I thought, 'What do you want to do there? Is it not better you train because you are injured?' I understand now he wanted to show immediately [his] value for the team, which he was not 100 per cent sure about in that moment. I was. I was, I knew when Hendo came back, I knew him from before, I liked him a lot as a player, this box-to-box midfielder, the energy he brought on the pitch, leadership and all these things. So many things I liked about the player before I knew him as a man.
It was tough for him, but from that moment on I would say, besides a few injuries, it was a pure success story since then. I know, and it is always like this in life, people will only appreciate him properly after he has left. That's how it is. I think he didn't get the proper appreciation or respect he would have deserved over the years - from some for sure, but not from all. Now he leaves, I would say, not on the highest high because obviously last season was not fantastic, but [he is] leaving on a high and I think that's good. In the future when people are looking back then they will realise Jordan Henderson was the skipper of [our] most successful squad until then - I hope we can create another one - and the skipper of the first Premier League title winners and all these kind of things. That's a special career. He should be and will be in the future proud of it.
How would you sum him up as a player on the pitch? What are the things he has brought over the years?
Hendo is a really good package, a really good package. There is the physical part, but there is the super-technical part. He is technically really, really good. Which sometimes players, because of the role they see themselves [in] on the pitch, this fighter and stuff like this, don't always show. You cannot have this amount of Premier League games, you cannot be captain of Liverpool, you cannot play in the most important games in the world if you are technically not on a super-high level - and he is. Right foot, left foot really good. Tactically he improved the most since we are here, had to play different positions, did that really well. Even played centre-half for us. Had to play No.6, I thought he played a few outstanding games on six.
Let me say, this midfield Fabinho, Hendo, Gini and then Millie, these four for three positions, I think nobody would have said it would be a successful midfield because something is lacking - but nothing was lacking because the boys were all a real package. That's what was so good and Hendo was a super-important part of that. Some great goals and now after he leaves, we will remember even the goals; there were maybe not exactly as many as there could have been, but some fantastic goals. One I will never forget was the one at Chelsea, it was a real screamer into the far corner. Top-class professional, top bloke and a really, really, really good player. That's what you need to be if you want to play that long for Liverpool.