Jordan Henderson made it a personal crusade to drag Liverpool to Premier League glory – and he’s aiming to do the same with England.
The Kop captain pulls on an England shirt for the first time in a year against Belgium admitting he thrives on the responsibility of helping those around him for club and country.
And a month short of his ten year anniversary as an England player, Henderson believes, finally, the Three Lions are edging closer to the success he dreams about with his country.
“I think we have improved again since the World Cup in 2018” says Henderson, who has also become Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year since his last game, a 6-0 win against Bulgaria.
“I wasn’t in the last camp and we missed the get-together in March because of the pandemic so it’s been a while since I was here.
Henderson will play for England for the first time in a year
(Image: Getty Images)
“But being back I definitely feel we have progressed” he says.
“There are new faces but I still see that hunger and desire of wanting to play for England and give their best to be successful.
“Watching them against Wales I felt nothing but excitement for the lads who were playing.
“I was buzzing when Conor Coady scored and Ingsy and Dominic Calvert-Lewin as well. They all deserve it.
“They’ve all been playing fantastically well for their clubs and they’ve come here and shown what they can do on an international stage.
“I’ve been excited by what I’ve seen from the new lads who have come into the set up.
“The togetherness has been really good again which I really like and the training intensity too.
Henderson has become a Premier League champion since he last played for England
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
“The last camp was difficult for everybody and it was hard to make a proper judgement.
“There were Champions League and Europa League finals, then coming straight in, not having much of a break, people were at different stages.
“There’s still a lot to improve on, but I saw a lot of good things against Wales.
“And now we have another important couple of Euro 2020 qualifying games coming up against Belgium and Denmark.
“And I suppose there’s no better game to learn from than Belgium, with them being world No 1.”
Southgate has been forced to deal with recent breaches of discipline
As an elder statesman of Gareth Southgate’s squad, the responsibility of helping police a young group of emerging England stars isn’t always easy.
Jadon Sancho, Tammy Abraham’s and Ben Chilwell are the latest England stars to break Covid-19 rules after Manchester duo Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood flouted regulations in Iceland.
But Henderson willingly accepts his role – and along with Southgate is eager to help youngsters take the right path.
“Gareth has handled certain situations in terms of discipline very well.
“Everyone backs him in what he has said, but at the same time I am a senior player and I have also got to support my team-mates and help them as much as possible.
“As you get older and more experienced you need to take more responsibility and I feel I need to do that now” says Henderson.
Henderson is hoping to make his mark against Belgium
(Image: Eddie Keogh for The FA/REX/Shutterstock)
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“It’s my responsibility to help the younger lads make good decisions in the future.
“It’s down to me as a senior player to especially help them when they come into the group as to what is expected.
“It’s important to make them feel welcome and be able to perform at the highest level like they always do at their clubs.
“If they have any questions I like to think they should come to me and the other senior players.
“I try to make myself open and help them in different situations whether that’s football or outside of football.”