Jordan Henderson finished his 12-year spell at Liverpool with a range of former and current team-mates including Virgil van Dijk in charge of the tributes
Virgil van Dijk hailed Jordan Henderson as “captain, leader and legend” after his departure from Liverpool was confirmed.
Dropping the armband, the former Reds captain has opted to join Saudi Arabia with a lucrative offer at Al-Ettifaq, now managed by former team-mate Steven Gerrard. Henderson captained Liverpool during a hugely successful era.
He is the former Sunderland player who has been in the front row, lifting Premier League and Champions League trophies and several domestic cups. His departure inevitably caused a wave of emotion among his teammates, led by Van Dijk.
Numerous colleagues, past and present, also expressed their feelings with a sense of familiarity. Cody Gakpo, who only played alongside Henderson for a few months, said: “Thank you Captain.” The young Stefan Bajcetic added: “Thanks for everything Captain”.
Henderson managed to overcome doubters, including former manager Brendan Rodgers, who was ready to approve his departure. The midfielder chose to stay and fight for his place, becoming a mainstay and winning numerous individual and team honours.
Several team-mates who have now moved on have paid tribute with Japanese star Takumi Minamino saying “all the best” and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain simply stating “legend”. England colleague Reece James has issued his best by saying: “Good luck mate. Legend forever”. Well known Liverpool fan and former football league journeyman Adebayo Akinfenwa said: “You will be missed!!!!! Captain. BeastMode.”
Henderson moved to Anfield in 2011 after appearing on stage with Sunderland. His appearances organized the Reds, who were then managed by Kenny Dalglish, to pay 20 million pounds sterling for the midfielder, who scored his first goal to Liverpool during a home victory against Bolton.
The 33-year-old leaves Merseyside having played 492 times, scoring on 33 occasions. Henderson was named the FWA Footballer of the Year in 2020 after he led Liverpool to their first title in three decades, also being named the club’s Fan’s Player of the Year.
His exit continues the mass Liverpool midfield exodus. Earlier this summer Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and James Milner were all allowed to leave when their contracts expired. Henderson has now joined them with Fabinho also linked with a lucrative switch to Saudi Arabia.
So far, Jurgen Klopp has responded by adding Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai for just under £100million. They continue to pursue Romeo Lavia of Southampton, who will leave the Saints after their relegation.