UEFA Nations League - Group A4: Loyal Henderson will not be taking foot off the gas in new competition
JORDAN HENDERSON wouldn’t normally disagree with his Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
The Anfield skipper even admitted: “Jurgen does everything and we follow him. More often than not we do as he says.”
But Henderson begs to differ with his German gaffer when it comes to the UEFA Nations League, in which England play Spain tomorrow night after Friday’s 0-0 draw in Croatia in the same competition.
Klopp’s blunt assessment of the international tournament was: “It is the most senseless competition in the world.”
But Henderson, with his England cap on, sees things differently.
The Three Lions midfielder, 28, said: “As a player you want to win every game, even if it’s a friendly and, for us, the Nations League is important.
“That’s because it has an effect on the groups and the seedings at the Euros in two years.
“And it’s important for us to play and try to win against big nations like Spain.
“It’s important that we go to the next level. It’s a good challenge and an important challenge for us to prove we can do that.
“As a team, after reaching the semi-finals at the World Cup, we feel we have to go to the next level and compete against Spain, France, Croatia and teams like that.
“We want to win those kind of games.
“There is still a way for us to go to get where we want to be – and that’s to be the best team in the world.
“Spain have a fantastic squad of players. Sacking their manager –
Julen Lopetegui – just before the
World Cup must have had some kind of impact on them and they didn’t do as well in
Russia as you would have thought.
“But to get to the
No.1 spot you have got to beat the best teams and
Spain are in that category.”
Spain, the 2010 winners, went out on spotkicks to Russia in the Round of 16. Since then, though, they have beaten Croatia 6-0, England 2-1 and Wales 4-1. England need a result tomorrow in Seville after securing just a point in their two Nations League matches, though they hit the woodwork twice in the stalemate in Rijeka. Henderson picked up a sixth-minute booking and will miss out in Spain through suspension.
It is eight years ago next month that the Liverpool captain, then with hometown team Sunderland, made his England debut against France at Wembley.
He lined up alongside Kieran Gibbs, Joleon Lescott and Andy Carroll in a 2-1 defeat.
Now he is one of the senior players at international level under Gareth Southgate and at club level for Klopp (below). Henderson, with a laugh, said: “You are making me feel old! Do
I feel like a different person eight years on? Yes and no.
“I still feel quite young – until you start reeling off things like that. But it’s been an interesting eight years and I feel as if I have grown as a person and a player.
“I’ve loved every minute but I still feel as if I’m the same person. “And I still feel like I’m 20, but in other ways I really have come on leaps and bounds and matured.
“My advice to the young lads in the squad would be to be yourself and to express yourself. Have no fear. “But it is made easier for the young ones coming in by the senior lads who are here. “It is positive to have so much competition – I have that at Liverpool and with England. “If you are not being pushed you will get left behind.”