Rio Ferdinand has hailed Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson as ‘an inspiration’ for the way he has led his team to the top of world football.
Henderson cemented his place in Liverpool folklore when he lifted the European Cup just under a year ago, which came after the Reds’ stunning semi-final comeback against Barcelona exactly 12 months ago.
The 29-year-old midfielder then inspired his team to UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup success.
And provided the season is allowed to resume next month following a coronavirus-enforced halt, it will only be a matter of time before he gets the hands on the Premier League trophy that has for so long eluded Liverpool.
Ferdinand has been impressed by the way Henderson has grown into the role of Reds captain – especially given he had such big shoes to fill as the successor to legendary Anfield skipper Steven Gerrard.
“He’s grown into that role,” said former Manchester United captain Ferdinand on BT Sport’s UCL Throwbacks.
“Some people are made captains early on, some people mature into it and I think he’s definitely the latter.
“He’s had to fill massive shoes – one of the biggest pair of shoes you’d have to fill with Steven Gerrard.
“But he’s done it with aplomb – there’s been a gracefulness about him, there’s been an assuredness there, a steeliness that maybe you wouldn’t have expected to see when he was a young lad at Sunderland.
“He’s grown so well into that role and it fits him like a glove now that armband. It’s perfect for him.”
Henderson joined Liverpool from Sunderland in 2011, and has since had to endure jibes from opposing fans unconvinced of his effectiveness on the pitch.
But the midfielder – who has 55 England caps – has had the last laugh after leading his side to the Intercontinental treble and the brink of Premier League glory.
Ferdinand knows what it is like to captain a side to Champions League success, having done so with United in 2008 to add to the six Premier League titles, Club World Cup and two League Cups he won with the club.
The former centre-half says Henderson has grown in stature since lifting Liverpool’s sixth European Cup last year, and reckons he is now one of the players Jurgen Klopp’s side miss the most when he’s not on the pitch.
“He’s took it on and he’s part of folklore at that football club,” said Ferdinand. “Because he’s the man who wore the armband on that day and lifted the trophy.
“And what that does for you as a person and what that does in the eyes of the fans, it’s phenomenal – and it’ll live long in the memory of the fans who were in the stadium or watching it from afar.
“He’s a fantastic player and you can see when he’s not in that team, he is missed now.
“And I think for every player, that’s where you want to get to in you life and in your career – that when you’re not in that team it doesn’t quite function as well.
“He’s in that position now – he’s the captain, he’s the leader, he’s the inspiration.”