Henderson relishes ‘pressure’ of playing for Liverpool
Çetin Cem Yılmaz Liverpool
AFP PhotoAfter a season of performing above expectations, Liverpool’s young squad is adjusting to the pressures of playing as Premier League title contenders, according to midfielder Jordan Henderson.
Preparing for the home game against Aston Villa on Sept. 13, Henderson said the players are even relishing the pressure.
“There is always going to be pressure, to be fair, because Liverpool is a big club. Everybody expects them to do well, especially off of last season,” he said in an exclusive interview provided by the club’s official website. “So, you have to deal with pressure when you’re a footballer, and everybody loves that pressure because it means you are doing something right and people are expecting you to do well.
“So you have to put the pressure on yourself when you go out and perform and you have to give 100 percent. Just give your best every time,” he added.
Henderson provided the interview on the occasion marking Liverpool’s first official International Fan Survey. The survey will allow supporters, estimated to exceed 500 million worldwide, to “have their say and to help shape the Club’s future.” Fans will be able to participate in the survey via the club’s official website, www.liverpoolfc.tv.
Henderson said he was always impressed by the club’s international following.
“I think it is really important to go to different places preseason, and you can see how passionate they are,” he said. “They turn up to every training session; interact with us while we’re there. It’s really important that when we’re back here that we don’t forget about them fans and, like I said, we keep interacting with them the best we can.”
Liverpool had an encouraging start to the season with wins over Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur, but a 3-1 defeat at Manchester City in between the two wins was disappointing.
“Obviously disappointed with the second game against City, because I felt like we were going to end up with a lot of confidence, and up until the first goal, I felt as though we played some good stuff and controlled the game well,” Henderson said. “Overall, disappointed with that result, but hopefully we can put it right at the weekend.”
After arriving from Sunderland, Henderson had to shoulder the weight of being the 16-million-pound man in his first couple of seasons, but last year the 24-year-old stamped his authority not only at Merseyside, but on English football as well. He is a regular starter for Liverpool and England’s team, but Henderson retains his humility.
“I don’t think [I am one of the first names on the team sheet]; I think everybody is equal in the squad,” he said. “I feel as though we have a lot of good players here, so everybody, every time we go training, is working their absolute hardest and the best that they can to try and get in the first XI.
“I just have to keep working hard, keep doing what I’m doing so I can keep playing football,” he added.
Henderson’s consistency and vision prompts some pundits and fans to think that he is a natural successor to the club’s talismanic captain Steven Gerrard, 34, but again, Henderson is avoiding big assertions.
“To be honest, I think Stevie has many years left in him because he trains hard every day; he’s always in the gym and he’s a really fit person, so I think that’s a long way as of yet really,” he said. “A lot can change in football in a short space of time, so all I will be focusing on is doing my best for the club, keep working hard and hopefully just keep improving.”