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top buy Ten years on from Jordan Henderson's Liverpool move, Niall Quinn recalls how he did the deal

Jordan Henderson joined Liverpool ten years ago today and here is how his Anfield story started

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Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates with the trophy and team mates after winning the Champions League Final.  REUTERS/Carl Recine/File Photo

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates with the trophy and team mates after winning the Champions League Final. REUTERS/Carl Recine/File Photo

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates with the trophy and team mates after winning the Champions League Final. REUTERS/Carl Recine/File Photo

HE was an eight-year-old boy with a steely determination in his eyes and lofty dreams he would realise time and time again.

Local lad Jordan Henderson was not intimidated by the presence of the local heroes he was given an audience with at Sunderland's training ground, with Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips posing for a photo with a kid who would go on to achieve more in the game than they managed in their own illustrious careers.

Quinn could never have imagined that some 13 years later, he would be Sunderland chairman and the club's negotiator-in-chief as he sold the England midfielder to the mighty Liverpool for a lofty feel of around £20m.

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Virgin Media pundit Niall Quinn is pictured during the Virgin Media Televisions Spectacular Week of Sport event at The Alex Hotel in Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Virgin Media pundit Niall Quinn is pictured during the Virgin Media Televisions Spectacular Week of Sport event at The Alex Hotel in Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Virgin Media pundit Niall Quinn is pictured during the Virgin Media Televisions Spectacular Week of Sport event at The Alex Hotel in Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Now the former Ireland striker has offered up his reflections on a player who progressed through the Sunderland academy and made it all the way to the game's peak as he lifted the Champions League trophy as Liverpool captain in 2019, with the pride he feels for having a role in his rise evident in his each and every word.

"I have said for some time that Jordan is my favourite footballer and there are a number of reasons why I make that statement," begins Virgin Media Sport analyst Quinn.

"While I always knew Jordan had the potential to be a star when he came through the ranks at Sunderland, seeing what he has achieved has been incredible for those of us who were there at the start and I will never forget the first day he crossed my path.

"I have a picture of him at home from the first day he was brought up to our training ground to meet me and my then strike-partner Kevin Phillips and it is one of the best photos I have from my time at Sunderland.

"Jordan had just signed from our academy and at eight years of age, you could see from the look in his eyes that he was not a kid who was overawed by where he was.

"He looked at Kevin and I and was not starry-eyed at all. He had an attitude of 'I want to be like you' and that's what you need to make it in the game.

"The way he threw himself into hard work made him stand out from the crowd from the off in the Sunderland academy and when we sent him on loan to Coventry as a young lad, they were desperate to sign him.

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Jordan Henderson played for Sunderland until 2011 (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Jordan Henderson played for Sunderland until 2011 (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Jordan Henderson played for Sunderland until 2011 (Owen Humphreys/PA)

"Ray Ranson was the CEO of Coventry at the time and after three games, he was on the phone to me asking me to name my price. Jordan was 17 or 18 at that stage and anyone who knew about football appreciated this kid had the potential to be very special.

"I remember the call and it echoed the sentiments we had; if only every young footballer was like Jordan Henderson.

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"When another club said the same thing that we felt, it cemented our belief that we had a special player on our hands here.

"So many young kids arrive at academies in England and they have all the ability in the world, but they have a feeling they have made it just because they are there. That's not the case. Getting into a club is just the start and from there, you have to do everything possible to take that chance or it will slip through your fingers.

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Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates with his father Brian and the trophy after winning the Champions League Final. Photo: REUTERS/Carl Recine

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates with his father Brian and the trophy after winning the Champions League Final. Photo: REUTERS/Carl Recine

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates with his father Brian and the trophy after winning the Champions League Final. Photo: REUTERS/Carl Recine

"Jordan is just a wonderful success story and a great role model for any young kid who is trying to understand what is required to make it as a professional footballer. Do you have to be born with it? Do you have to have the skill and talent of Lionel Messi? No, you don't.

"If you have the right work ethic, if you listen to those around you and show a desire to reach the top day after day and never give up until you get everything out of your career, you can achieve what Jordan Henderson has.

"You need a resolve when things get tough, to overcome a few doubters and one day, you can be stood there lifting the Champions League trophy. Jordan has proved that is possible It is an inspirational story for kids in England and Ireland to draw inspiration from."

Henderson took time to win over his critics at Liverpool, but those doubts were banished as he led Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2019 and backed it up by lifting the Premier League title a year later.

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Jordan Henderson was the first Liverpool captain to raise the league title in 30 years (Paul Ellis/PA)

Jordan Henderson was the first Liverpool captain to raise the league title in 30 years (Paul Ellis/PA)

Jordan Henderson was the first Liverpool captain to raise the league title in 30 years (Paul Ellis/PA)

Kenny Dalglish was Liverpool manager when the club identified Henderson as midfielder capable of maturing into a successor to Kop icon Steven Gerrard, yet the initial impression of the youthful and raw midfielder who had already earned senior international honours with England left a lasting and negative impression.

Many Liverpool fans dismissed him as a one-dimensional performer who lacked the class to take the club to the pedestal they have been standing on for the last couple of years, with Reds manager Jurgen Klopp consistently stepping forward to promote Henderson's importance.

"He's just a fantastic boy. He deserves all the praise but he doesn't get too much of it," said Klopp. "Hendo, from my point of view, is a brilliant player. He's our skipper, he's a fantastic character.

"If I had to write a book about Hendo, it would be too long. The most difficult job in the last 500 years of football was to replace Steven Gerrard. In the mind of the people, it was like if it's not Stevie, then it's not good enough. And he has dealt with that outstandingly well so he can be really proud. Now we have to think of the future and he is a very important part of our team.

"The people who don't understand how important Hendo is to us and what a great player he is don't understand anything about football."

Quinn heartily echoes those sentiments as he paid tribute to a player whose importance to Liverpool was felt during his long spell on the sidelines in the season that came to a conclusion last month.

"I'm not surprised by what he has achieved at Liverpool, but it's nice to see others appreciating what he can bring to the game and what a great player he is," he added.

"His manager Jurgen Klopp appreciates that and has done from the moment he arrived at the club, but a few others needed some convincing.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) and Jordan Henderson with the Champions League trophy as they arrive back at John Lennon Airport, Liverpool (Dave Howarth/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) and Jordan Henderson with the Champions League trophy as they arrive back at John Lennon Airport, Liverpool (Dave Howarth/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) and Jordan Henderson with the Champions League trophy as they arrive back at John Lennon Airport, Liverpool (Dave Howarth/PA)

"The one reason why Jordan was always destined to succeed was his work ethic. No one worked as hard as this fella.

"If he did something wrong in a game, he would be at the training ground the next day trying to recreate the situation on what should have been a day off.

"He would practice it hundreds of times if he needed to as he wanted to make sure that the next time it came up in a match, he would get it right. That's the attitude of a winner and someone who wants to make the best of his career.

"Jordan is a model of how a footballer should carrying himself in the modern game, a class act. He is a credit to his parents and I just love watching him do what he does.

"He is a model of how a footballer should be carrying himself in the modern game, a class act. He is a credit to his parents and I have said for a long time that he is my favourite footballer in the game today."

Henderson has gone from being cast as an Anfield misfit to earning the right to be hailed as one of the greatest Liverpool captains of all-time.

Those critics have long since been silenced.

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Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates. Photo: PA

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates. Photo: PA

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson celebrates. Photo: PA

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