JORDAN Henderson returns to the Stadium of Light tomorrow for the first time since his £18million sale to Liverpool last summer.
And the England Under-21 skipper admits it will be emotional coming back to the club he spent 14 years of his life at.
He told the Echo: “I’m looking forward to the game, but I expect it will feel a bit strange having to go into the away dressing room for the first time!
“It felt strange playing against Sunderland on the first day of the season.
“And although I’ve got used to the fact that I’m very much a Liverpool player, tomorrow is bound to be a bit odd for me, seeing all the staff again.”
Henderson’s family, all Sunderland supporters like Jordan himself, are likely to find they might have divided loyalties for tomorrow’s game – unlike last week.
Jordan, above in his Sunderland days, grinned: “I wanted Sunderland to win the derby of course, as I always do. In fact, I hope Sunderland win every game they play, as long as I’m not on the opposing side!
“But I’m really pleased about the way they’ve picked up in the last few months after a poor start to the season.
“I may have left the club, but I’ve still got loads of friends there and I want them to do well.
“There’s no reason why they can’t have a strong end to the season either because there’s an awful lot of good players in the squad.”
Henderson’s sale to Liverpool represents the biggest money sale Sunderland have ever had from a locally-produced player – vastly outstripping the £5.5million received from the sale of Michael Bridges more than a decade ago.
And while the midfielder did not ask to leave his beloved Sunderland, he appreciates it was an awful lot of money to turn down.
“These things happen in football and you have to accept them,” he said.
“I was really happy at Sunderland and happy to stay, but when a club like Liverpool comes in for you, you have to see it for the opportunity it is.
“I’m still young, still learning and I know I’ve got a long way to go.
“But I’ve managed to pick up a League Cup winners medal in my first season with the club and we still haven’t given up on the hope of pinching a Champions League place either.”
To bring that goal closer, Liverpool will need to beat Sunderland tomorrow, but after that, Henderson hopes the Black Cats can produce a storming end to the season.
“I love the club and I always got on well with the fans, so I’m looking forward to coming back and acknowledging them.
“If I hadn’t been lucky enough to make it as a footballer, I’d have been in the stands with the rest of the fans.”