Brendan Rodgers won plaudits on Merseyside for guiding Liverpool to within touching distance of the Premier League title in the 2013/14 season, but while his departure would eventually be met with criticism, it could have very easily been a case of him being banned from the city for life.
The reason for that, of course, is because he tried to replace Jordan Henderson with Clint Dempsey. It's an almost unfathomable twist in that very true story that six years on, Jordan Henderson is now a Premier League and Champions League winning captain, and the 2019/20 FWA Footballer of the Year.
Jordan Henderson has been named the FWA Footballer of the Year. ✍️? pic.twitter.com/Fapp2dAMqt— 90min (@90min_Football) July 24, 2020
Swathes of football fanatics who are more geared towards blinding skill and 90+ ratings on FIFA have cringed at the thought of anyone other than Kevin De Bruyne securing an individual English football award this season. The Belgian is capable of threading eye-of-the-needle passes, finding the postage stamp with 30-yard screamers or gliding past defenders with freakish regularity, while Henderson may do so once in a blue moon.
But that's not the point. You don't need to be grabbing 20 assists a season as a midfielder or dominating a game almost single-handedly to be fulfilling your role. It is so much more than simply that.
Which is why Henderson is worthy of his award.
Taking statistics out of the equation, the Liverpool captain has been outstanding this season. At a historic football club where the previous captain was the heart, soul and mind of the team, Henderson has come in and matched those qualities.
To lift the Premier League Trophy on the night we achieved 96 points shows that some things are just meant to be. Never forgotten. YNWA ❤️ pic.twitter.com/lyPB3L5G9u— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) July 23, 2020
He doesn't score belters every other game, nor does he assist at a rate anywhere near the Belgian, but he encapsulates everything great that Steven Gerrard once brought to Anfield. He embodies the ethos of the club, stays true to its values and wears his heart on his sleeve. Just as Gerrard did.
If you can't see what Henderson brings to Liverpool then you'll never understand why he's been so widely heralded.
He is the heart, soul and mind of the 11 players who take to the pitch.
The influence and quality of a player can be included in any thinking processes for an award such as this one - Ryan Giggs claimed the 2008/09 PFA Player of the Year despite starting just 15 league games - you needn't grab the headlines each week.
Congratulations, skipper ?— Liverpool FC (Premier League Champions ?) (@LFC) July 24, 2020
? @JHenderson ?
Moreover, you don't lead your side to European glory and banish the demons of a 30-year wait for a top flight title by simply cheering them on from the sidelines. You get your hands dirty, grab your teammates by the scruff of the neck and make them put their blood, sweat and tears into every minute of every game. Just like you're doing.
He may not be the glamorous pick for this award - far from it - but it's hard to argue that he doesn't deserve it.
Source : 90min