6 The Daily Telegraph Wednesday 1 July 2020 *** Sport Football Interview ‘Stevie will be so happy – we won title for him’ By Chris Bascombe and Kenny [Dalglish], who mean so much to this football club,” Henderson says. “I know how much it would mean to Stevie to win the Premier League title. He is so happy for us to be able to do that. I was devastated in 2014 that we couldn’t get over the line for him, but I know he will be so happy and so proud of this team to be able to bring the Premier League trophy to Liverpool. Yes, this one is quite personal for me and definitely to do it for him is quite big.” Gerrard will be the first to state that Henderson has no cause to defer to the Anfield legends now. The scale of that achievement does not seem to have occurred to Henderson himself, the midfielder appreciative of Gerrard and Dalglish in particular because, while they were instant heroes to the Kop, his own journey demanded he win over sections of Liverpool support in the early years of his career. “When I first took over the role of the captaincy, when people might have doubted me and criticised me as a person, I said then no one will replace Steven Gerrard at this club, no matter what the captain or team wins,” Henderson says. “No one will ever replace him. It wasn’t even in my mind when I took over the captaincy, it was just to do the best I could for this club and this team and that is all I ever try to do.” Henderson will lead Liverpool through the guard of honour at the Etihad tomorrow night, determined to show the deposed champions how tough it will be to regain their title. “We have leaders within [the dressing room] and the manager would never let distractions get in the way of what we’re trying to achieve,” he says. “You asked after the Champions League [win], would the players still have that drive, that hunger to go on and win more? I think we have proved this season we do. “It is down to us next season to prove we still have that and I have no doubt we will, knowing the lads, knowing the manager and myself. We just want to win football games. There’s a lot more to come because we can still do better and still be better. “Of course now, you’ve got to enjoy the moment, but then straight away the attention turns to City. We’ll probably get another period where we can enjoy it a little bit more. But then quickly it turns again and you get straight back into it, and the focus will be on what we can achieve next season.” And after the parties at the end of last week, it was straight back down to earth for Henderson on the home front. “As soon as I walked through the door [last Friday], the baby was handed into my arms and the kids were all having their tea and asking me to make them a drink. Crack on. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Leaders of men: Jordan Henderson embraces manager Jurgen Klopp; (far right), with Steven Gerrard in 2015 Henderson happy to dedicate Liverpool’s 19th championship to his predecessor as captain after ‘devastation’ of 2014 T here was a time when Jordan Henderson was in the shadow of the illustrious Liverpool captains who preceded him. Now he stands apart from the legends, soon to become the first Anfield leader to lift the European Cup, Club World Cup and English championship. Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson and Graeme Souness were able to get their hands on two, and a year ago Henderson mirrored the success of his mentor Steven Gerrard with Champions League victory. That triumph prompted the 30-year-old to get a tattoo of the European Cup on his left thigh. Will he be doing likewise with the Premier League trophy? “Possibly. A few of the lads have mentioned that. So I don’t think I can let them down, but we’ll have to wait and see,” he says. Typically, Henderson played down his personal achievement to dedicate the club’s 19th title to Gerrard, who handed over the captain’s armband in 2015. “After everything he has done for me and this football club, this is not only for us as players and the fans but it is also for players like Stevie Injury to end season for Matip Liverpool defender Joel Matip has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. The 28-yearold was hurt in the goalless Merseyside derby against Everton on June 21, just days before they were crowned Premier League champions. Matip told the club’s website: “This season I will not be back on the pitch but, for next season, I hope I’m going to be – quite early – a direct help for the team.” Ancelotti defends Delph and says ‘I texted Jurgen’ Relief for Klopp over Afcon delay By Chris Bascombe By Chris Bascombe Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has revealed he sent personal congratulations to Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool’s Premier League championship victory. Ancelotti said it was a sign of “respect” to put aside local rivalries and contact the Anfield manager after their Merseyside neighbours ended a 30-year wait for the title. The Italian made the comments after being informed that the Everton midfielder, Fabian Delph, has been criticised by some fans on social media for sending a well-done message to Liverpool physio Lee Nobes. Delph and Nobes were colleagues at their former club Manchester City, and Delph “liked” an Instagram post of Nobes wearing a shirt with the word ‘Champions’. Delph added the post, “Love it”. Ancelotti defended his player. “I to join Liverpool in European competition next season. Everton have made a promising start since lockdown – taking four points from their two games – and if they can maintain momentum, could secure one of the remaining Europa League places. “It would be a big achievement for all of us at the club if all the supporters could see European football, but it is a long way to go,” Ancelotti said ahead of tonight’s meeting with Leicester City. “It will be difficult, but it is a possibility and we have to fight for the possibility. The next two games we play strong teams, Leicester and Tottenham, and then we also have to play Sheffield United. There are a lot of teams involved, so it will be exciting. We are focused on that 100 per cent.” Liverpool’s title defence next season has been given the perfect boost with the removal of the threat of losing Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane for part of the campaign. The postponement of the Africa Cup of Nations for 12 months will come as a relief to manager Jurgen Klopp, who had called the scheduling of the competition in January 2021 “a catastrophe”. A decision was taken yesterday to delay the event because of the pandemic. A new date is yet to be determined, although moving it back will put it in the same year as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, creating fresh scheduling issues. “This decision was taken due to the uncertainties about the coronavirus health situation and especially because of the scheduling problems since four rounds of qualifiers would need to be fitted into the October and November windows for international matches,” said Confederation of African Football president Ahmad Ahmad. Liverpool could have lost Salah to Egypt, Mane to Senegal and Naby Keita to Guinea for up to six weeks if the tournament had gone ahead as planned. The new Premier League champions are not the only English club to benefit from the rescheduling decision. Pep Guardiola will be pleased he will not lose Riyad Mahrez, who captained Algeria to the African title last year. Arsenal will now retain Ivory Coast forward Nicolas Pepe, while Chelsea can be assured that their new signing from Ajax, Hakim Ziyech, will not be required to join the Morocco squad. Everton v Leicester City 6pm, Sky Sports think this is a personal behaviour. If you want to send a message to some team-mates to congratulate them, it’s absolutely normal,” he said. “I sent a message to Jurgen to congratulate him for his success. I think it’s important to respect, nothing more. I sent a [text] message to congratulate him by phone.” Everton did not congratulate Liverpool for their title on social media, having been among the first to do so when Manchester City pipped Klopp to the Premier League a year ago, but Ancelotti and Klopp’s friendship pre-dates their arrival on Merseyside. The club rivalry will not compromise it. Back on the field, Ancelotti hopes
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