“One of our own” Jordan Henderson was awarded the FWA Writers Footballer of the Year for the 2019/2020 season in English Football late last week.
The Fencehouses-raised midfielder finds himself top of the pile of English football.
In his modesty (a trait he’s now renowned for), upon being bestowed with the honour, Henderson, 30 said:
As grateful as I am I don’t feel like I can accept this on my own, I owe a lot to so many people but none more so than my current team-mates, who have been incredible and deserve this every bit as much as I do.
Born and bred of our parish, the central midfield talisman can now take his place in the history books as one of the best footballers to ever grace the English game.
A skinny, hardworking footballer when he finally broke through at the Academy, it could be argued Jordan was not always destined for great things, making his debut against Chelsea for Sunderland, coming on at half time, in a 5-0 defeat. He then made his full debut against Blackburn Rovers in the League Cup, but ultimately was viewed as ‘too weak’ for the Premier League and was finally loaned out to Coventry City for the remainder of his first season in professional football.
Here at Sunderland, Jordan broke through the academy in 2009 with players like Conor Hourihane, Liam Noble, Jack Colback and Ryan Noble – Hourihane is also still plying his trade in the Premier League, quite successfully, with Aston Villa and the two Nobles were very highly thought of at the time and perhaps had quite disappointing careers. The less said about Colback the better (although personally, I thought of him as a decent servant to the club until he joined the darkside).
He was rather unfortunate his Sunderland career began under the tenure of Steve Bruce, when the fans had already made their mind up about his tactics and abilities as a manager and I believe that, in turn, made people quite indecisive about the youngster and his own abilities (oh how we were wrong!).
However, it turns out Liverpool’s scouting and recruitment structure is actually quite competent, and they snapped up Henderson for what was then (2011) an inflated figure of £20m. The general consensus of the Sunderland fan, was very much one of “Oh, we’ve got ourselves a good deal here”.
Henderson then went from strength to strength, having made his Liverpool debut against ourselves in a 1-1 stalemate (and given a very mixed reception from the Sunderland fans), but then he started both League and FA Cup finals that season too.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Nowadays, the opinion has changed to one of that he’s a local boy and we all like to see them do well.
Michael Ridley, Sunderland fan said “I think it’s excellent, I like to see local lads that have come through the academy doing well… can anyone blame him for moving to Liverpool?”
Another fan, Josh Wilkinson tweeted “Shows what our Academy has produced, just shows the plight we have found ourselves in since.”
I’m convinced that even Jordan didn’t think that, these days, he’d be lifting trophies such as the World Club Championship, Champions League, the Premier League and now Writers Footballer of the Year - an annual award given to the player who is adjudged to have been the best of the season in English Football.
Yet, the history books will show that he went on to achieve just about everything in football. He’s the epitome of hard work and every young player making their way through Sunderland’s academy should aspire to be just like him - in his approach to life, the game, his team mates, his conditioning and his mentality.
It goes without saying, but the people of Wearside are immensely proud of the fine young man that Jordan has become, because whilst we’ve got very little to cheer about when it comes to our own football club, Jordan is one of our own and we feed on his success.
So, hats off to the lad.
He deserves the adulation, even if he appears to want to share it with his teammates - though, that in itself tells you all you need to know about what type of person he is.
We can only hope he returns to Sunderland one day before he hangs up his boots.