When you think of Jordan Henderson, one would assume that you would go back to some of our most memorable moments as Liverpool fans. The shot of him in tears hugging Jurgen Klopp after winning the Champions League in 2019 evokes emotion. The jubilation on his face as he lifted the Premier League trophy, Liverpool’s first in 30 years, the following season is still etched in our minds. Numerous iterations of the “Hendo Shuffle” were on display as we lifted every major trophy under the sun. That is the Jordan Henderson I want to remember. That was his legacy at Liverpool Football Club…at least until last summer.
Now I know that some people reading this piece might throw words like “naive” or “overdramatic” around. I can concede some of those traits. However, it is hard to argue the fact that Henderson’s fallout with the Liverpool fan base isn’t warranted.
A Tainted Legacy
In my eyes, I saw the man as a model professional in the sport. Hendo was the captain of one of the biggest clubs in the world. He was a key piece of a side that won everything in their path. Most importantly, he was a voice for supporters throughout minority groups such as LGBTQ+ individuals.
This is what separated Jordan Henderson in my eyes from your typical football captain. He was a leader both on and off the pitch. It’s such a shame that all of this goodwill, all of this progress, was thrown away for a (supposed) quick paycheck.
At this point, we all know the story. Henderson’s move to Al-Ettifaq in the SPL served as a giant slap in the face to everything our former captain stood for. His legacy had a stain on it. While I haven’t been a Liverpool supporter as long as most of you reading this piece, this was the biggest disappointment I’ve felt with a player leaving the club.
A Different Type Of Departure
Fernando Torres leaving for Chelsea in 2011 was rough. Steven Gerrard unceremoniously leaving for the MLS in 2015 was even more so. Philippe Coutinho’s weaseling out of town in 2017 was pathetic on the Brazilian’s part. Those were all disappointing mostly for sporting reasons. Henderson’s exit didn’t spark questions about his talent, or even loyalty to the club, but once again a betrayal of all the former Sunderland man claimed to support.
The decision received near-unanimous disapproval. It wasn’t just Liverpool fans looking down on the deal but more so all the folks our captain was supposedly an ally for. There was the overwhelming sentiment that this was a stab in the back for a buck. The irony of it all is that according to reports, Henderson didn’t even make the exorbitant sums that he was promised in the Saudi League after all. Now he will try to rehabilitate his legacy at Ajax after a forgettable stint with eighth-placed Al-Ettifaq.
Jordan Henderson’s move to the Dutch giants reinforces what many fans already know. His sojourn to the Saudi Pro League wasn’t a “career move.” There was no real plan to develop football in the region or be a voice for the voiceless in the Middle East. It was simply a money move, end of story.
Now the 33-year-old will be in the Eredivisie at an Ajax side currently outside the European places. He returns to Europe without a single cent (so far) of blood money and his tail between his legs. His once-shining legacy and reputation are in tatters.
We’re all human beings. We all make mistakes. But rarely do any of us make mistakes as massive as Henderson’s. The question remains, and I would love to get all your input, how do you see Jordan Henderson in the context of his Liverpool career? Is he still our stalwart captain who led us to immeasurable heights or was his exit a black mark you can never wash off?
As someone who adored the man before the move, he represented the best of what the sport could offer. In the end, he became another tragic example of how one can abandon their principles when a certain number of zeroes get tacked on to the end of their salary.
They say superheroes are works of fiction. Jordan Henderson, a man I once saw as the closest thing to a real-life one on and off the field, certainly proves that.