"Real Madrid surely face another Liverpool"

The Liverpool captain has two big ambitions: to satisfy his hunger for another Champions League trophy and to raise money for the NHS

GB About: Liverpool Publish: 05/24/2022 Edit: 05/24/2022 Author: Gardener


Liverpoolordan henderson searches his diary for a date when an award from this year's NHS Big Tea fundraiser is due to be presented. "I'm not sure that's a good price," he says with typical modesty and a laugh. "But if we could get as many schools as possible to sign up for the Big Tea, that would be great. I'll visit the winner of the raffle and do some Q&A with the kids, although that could be difficult over the next few weeks.” The Liverpool captain's schedule is once again packed with a Champions League final. At the Stade de France, Henderson becomes the first Englishman to captain a team in three Champions League or European Cup finals. With a stroke of fate against Real Madrid or another demonstration of the power of Jurgen Klopp's side, he will emulate Emlyn Hughes as Liverpool's two-time European Cup captain. "They say Emlyn Hughes is the only Liverpool captain to have won twice," says Henderson. "I'm sure he would have said it was the Liverpool team that won it twice, not him. If we manage to win twice, it's up to the team, the manager, the staff and everyone involved. When it's time to look back on it, I'll think about it. "Yes, I wear the armband on a match day and I've been here a long time, but there are so many other leaders in the dressing room, so many great players and it's a collective effort. It's not about me trying to match other great captains Liverpool have had or beating records. We'll give it our all and hopefully bring another Champions League back to Anfield.” Henderson is a humble, selfless leader but speaks with firm conviction about the second Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid in four years that's coming to the city where Alan Kennedy's goal decided the clubs' first final 41 years ago. "I would say that they definitely meet another Liverpool," says the midfielder. The guys were incredible. New players came on, we were successful, we also had bad moments during this time and you learn from all of that. I definitely feel like this is a different team than Madrid were a few years ago." The biggest difference Henderson sees at Liverpool isn't so much the staff - on Saturday Klopp was able to select eight of the squad that played at 1 : 3 defeat in Kyiv – but their appetite for success. Liverpool thrilled en route to the 2018 final but were not an established winner. The Henderson shuffle in front of a trophy lift had not been observed. It will be staged for the seventh time in three years should Liverpool win their seventh European Cup in Paris. "Winning the Champions League has always been a dream of mine, winning the Premier League has always been a dream of mine and when you do that you have to reevaluate," says Henderson. "You have to process that and think, 'What now?' It's about the next challenge and finding a way to want it even more. And I think when you become successful and win trophies, you want to go back there and do it again even more. You learn it's about the journey and all the memorable games it takes to get there. “The hunger has always been there and when you win, the hunger grows and you start thinking about other challenges, like becoming a team that wins the Champions League twice. There aren't many players who have managed that, so to win it twice would be incredible. The same can be said of the Premier League - the first Liverpool team to win it in 30 years. You create history all the time and that's what it's about. The more trophies you win, the more history you make.” Henderson will have family and friends in Paris, including his father Brian, whose hug with his son after the 2019 Champions League final was one of the most emotional moments in Madrid. "It would be nice to repeat that," said the England international, who was rested for the four Nations League games in June. Instead, the NHS Big Tea is at the heart of his summer agenda. After organizing the #PlayersTogether initiative early in the pandemic - talks had begun among Premier League captains before then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged players to "take a pay cut and play their part" - Henderson awarded an MBE for merit to charity last year, is now ambassador for NHS Charities Together. The organization works with more than 230 NHS charities to provide additional help to staff, patients and volunteers, including counseling and psychological support for post-traumatic stress disorder, and funds more than 700 community partnership projects. Schools are encouraged to host events that contribute to mental health staff projects and the long-term recovery of the NHS post Covid-19. Participating schools will enter a free prize draw to win a visit from Henderson. His advertisement for the NHS Big Tea, which takes place on July 5, is his latest way of giving back to the health service that treated his father for cancer in 2013. “Through #PlayersTogether and becoming more aware of mental health is something we've focused on with NHS Charities Together,” says Henderson. "We're practically back to normal life now, but the last few years have had a massive impact on NHS staff. I have great admiration for what they are doing and what they have been doing over the last few years and if I can help a little I will. Hopefully as many people as possible across the country can do the same by signing up for the Big Tea.” Henderson remains in regular contact with NHS Charities Together chief executive Ellie Orton to learn how #PlayersTogether proceeds are being distributed will. But she does update me and when I go to hospitals she tells me what has been done to help, whether it's quiet rooms, rooms, bringing in mental health support staff, packages for families of employees during Covid, communities acts; many different areas. I was pleased to see it had a major impact on the pandemic. "That's because of the players who got involved, not just on the money side - and I know the money has helped and will help - but also the emotional component of the support we've given the staff during this time, was important. Lots of people love football in this country and I'm sure lots of staff look up to different players on different teams so coming together and supporting NHS staff at a time of need has had the greatest impact. Klopp has sought to help his players through the intensity of a 63-game season with no margin for error, repeating the mantra: enjoy the journey. Henderson has no doubt Liverpool will recover from the deflation of the Premier League final before reaching the ultimate goal in Paris. "I try [to enjoy the journey]," he says. "It's difficult with all the pressure and all the games but I have to give so much credit to the lads for how they're handling it, for the mentality, the focus in every single game every three days, it's incredible. We have one last big push in a Champions League final and we have to give absolutely everything. Hopefully we can bring the trophy back to Anfield. If that's the case, it's going to be a pretty good season. Anyone can host or attend an NHS Big Tea throughout July. To find out more, sign up or enter your school in a prize draw for a visit from Jordan Henderson, visit www.nhscharitiestogether.co.uk.


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