Jordan Henderson exclusive: Liverpool captain name drops three Sunderland players and talks Stadium of Light return
It has been 11 long years since Jordan Henderson left his boyhood club for Liverpool.
Since then, the 32-year-old has won the Champions League, Club World Cup, Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup twice and European Super Cup and has cemented himself as one of the club’s most decorated captains.
By stark contrast, Sunderland suffered back-to-back relegations from the Premier League to League One coupled with a four-season stay in the third tier before promotion back to the Championship last season.
Henderson hasn’t forgotten his roots, however, despite the glittering success with the Merseyside club and in an interview with the Echo, he has been reflecting on Sunderland’s Championship return and the three players who have caught his eye.
Here’s what he had to say:
What are your thoughts on how Sunderland are getting on in the Championship?
Henderson said: “They’ve certainly had a great start. It’s always good to carry that momentum from promotion over into performances this season.
“I know from experience that the Championship is a tough league and anyone can beat anyone on their day, so you have to pick up points wherever you can.
“Looking at the fixtures, they have played some of the promotion favourites already so shows how well they have done so far. Hopefully, they keep it up.”
How did you feel about the club’s promotion from League One and where did he watch the game?
Henderson said: “It’s a great thing for the club and also the city.
"Sunderland is a huge footballing town and deserves to be in the top flight. Playing at a full Stadium of Light is an amazing experience and I hope to play there again one day.
“I had a lot of friends and family texting me when they got promoted and we were all super excited.”
Have any Sunderland players impressed you, if you have had a chance to watch any games?
Henderson said: “A couple of players have stood out with Patrick Roberts playing well and looking lively. Whilst Ross Stewart is one of the top scorers in the league and Jack Clarke has performed really well.
“They have an exciting team there and try to watch the games as often as I can.”
You work with a lot of good causes that help promote inclusivity in sport, how important is it that it’s promoted for all?
Henderson said: “It is super important. I am a firm believer in football being for everyone, no matter their ability or gender. As a parent I understand how taking your kids to football for the first time can be intimidating or off-putting. The great thing about Fun Football is the sessions are designed to ensure every level is catered for and accepted.
“It takes a step back from the competitive environment of football and puts enjoyment at the heart of every session, which is so important. Fun Football is the perfect environment for any child looking to take their first steps in football and I would encourage parents up and down the country to take advantage of the free session.”
Fun Football is the UK’s biggest free grassroots football programme and is giving one million children access to free coaching over the next four years. Find a session near you at mcdonalds.co.uk/football