Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish believes it would be remiss of him to take any credit for recruiting Jordan Henderson nine years ago, because not signing him would have been a major oversight.
Thirty-year-old Henderson will be the first captain to lift the Premier League trophy at the club, with a three-decade wait for the title ended on Thursday. He has already skippered Liverpool to their sixth European Cup, as well as Club World Cup and Super Cup honours.
The midfielder’s early years on Merseyside were testing, which included him being offered to Fulham in a failed part-exchange for Clint Dempsey.
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The task of being accepted and appreciated did not become any easier after Henderson inherited the armband from Steven Gerrard, but in typically persistent fashion, he has established himself as essential to Liverpool’s ambitions.
Dalglish signed the England international from Sunderland during his second managerial spell at Anfield in an eye-raising deal worth £20 million in June 2011, but removed himself from any acclaim for how paramount the player has become to the club.
“I saw somebody who was better than what we had at that time in that position,” said the 69-year-old, who won a combined nine titles as a player and manager for Liverpool.
“That was on the pitch. Then when you get into discussions, he was very balanced, his dad came with him for the conversations, which was – for me – a good sign.
“He had a secure home life, which helps, and he was determined to be a success in football. If I hadn’t given him a chance, it would have been me who would have been wrong. I’m not being modest – you see something you like and you get it.
“He will be the only Liverpool captain who has lifted this trophy, but is Club World Cup winner as well. He is up there with the captains who have picked up the Champions League.
“The great thing about the success I think is the common bond between everybody. You need a really good dressing room to be successful.”
Dalglish has also circled Jurgen Klopp’s comfort and credence in his own attributes as one of the factors behind Liverpool’s restoration as a domestic and continental force.
“Jurgen is very comfortable in himself, because he knows what he does is an honest effort and commitment to success and he doesn’t mind sharing that success,” Dalglish said.
“He doesn’t mind going round and showing appreciation to people. He is happy with it. He knows what he is doing is the right way for him. You don’t need to worry about anyone else, so having people in and around the football club isn’t a problem for him.
“Some people might feel intimidated, but when the club had success there were always people in and around the football club. I think that is important to have that. He is very comfortable and he enjoys sharing the success he has with everybody.
“He is the perfect fit for Liverpool. He is perfect. I said last night I am sure he is Scouser.
“Some people are suited to clubs because of the personality they have and the beliefs they have are similar, and that is exactly what Jurgen has.”
Dalglish expects Liverpool to remain unrelenting despite the club securing the piece of silverware they’ve most coveted.
“They won the Champions League and that never affected their hunger and desire when they came back the following year,” he said.
“They got 97 points last year and they never thought that was sad to lose the league by one point. They came back with their sleeves rolled up and on they went. Everyone kept their head up.
“To lose one game and draw two is an unbelievable achievement. For next year, obviously some of the teams will get stronger, but then so will Liverpool.
“They will not take it for granted that they have won this. They will enjoy this and when you enjoy something you want to do it again.”
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