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On This Day (9th June 2011): Hendo heads for Merseyside as Sunderland cash in on academy star

Steve Bruce and Niall Quinn decided the time was right to take the money...

Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images

A decade ago today, after 79 games and five goals for Sunderland, 20-year-old Jordan Henderson put pen to paper on Merseyside to sign for Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool.

The poster boy of Sunderland’s Academy, Henderson had been given his first-team legs by Roy Keane in a hammering at Chelsea in November 2008, and after a successful loan at Coventry had established himself as a key player for Steve Bruce’s team.

Manchester City v Sunderland - FA Youth Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg
Henderson rose through the Academy ranks
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Through the latter stages of the 2010-11 season, Bruce had continually talked up Henderson – from my memory, needlessly so, unless the end goal was to sell him to reinvest in the team. After the sale of Darren Bent it was hoped we’d not be in a position of needing to sell Henderson – however, the cash evidently was needed to fund more of Bruce’s spending.

Upon accepting the bid, chairman Niall Quinn said:

Jordan is a credit to himself, his family and Sunderland’s Academy and everyone here wishes him the very best for the future.

I am pleased that we got the deal to a level that we felt was right for our club. We know the areas that need strengthening and the type of player we need in order to progress and the job of bringing those players to the club is continuing apace.

On his arrival at Anfield, Henderson said:

I’m over the moon, overjoyed to be here and I’m really looking forward to it.

Obviously it’s hard to leave your local club. I’m a Sunderland lad, I’ve supported them all my life.

But I’m really looking forward to the future now and obviously this is a massive opportunity for me. I’m really excited by it.

Coming to a massive club like Liverpool, there is always going to be competition,” added Henderson. “Hopefully I can keep working hard, keep improving, and get my chance on the pitch.

(Gerrard) is one of the best players in the world, you want to be playing with him and training with him to try and improve yourself as a player. Hopefully I can learn a lot from him.

As part of the deal, Liverpool striker David Ngog was due to sign for Sunderland as makeweight, a signing which failed to materialise. The French striker ended up signing for Bolton a couple of months later.

Ironically enough, Henderson made his Liverpool league debut against his former club – a 1-1 draw at Anfield.

Liverpool v Sunderland - Premier League
Henderson on his Liverpool debut, against the lads
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Making their debuts for Sunderland that day were Wes Brown, Seb Larsson, David Vaughan and Ji Dong-Won. Connor Wickham – on whom a sizeable chunk of the Henderson money went on – was an unused sub. Wickham’s fee was £8m rising to £12m and, although we recouped a decent amount of that from Palace, it’s fair to say the big striker failed to shine at the Stadium of Light.

Henderson meanwhile, has obviously had a fantastic career for both Liverpool and England – although it could have all been different had he chose to accept a move to Fulham only a year after arriving at Anfield.

Then manager Brendan Rodgers offered him up in a swap deal for Fulham’s US international Clint Dempsey – Henderson refused to move, and both he and Liverpool have reaped the rewards.

Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing, however, some of the social media reaction (which I found courtesy of Sportbible) to Henderson signing for Liverpool are great to read in retrospect.

This sums up everything wrong with our game.

At least [Andy] Carroll has obvious potential and may well prove the doubters wrong, but Henderson?? I feel sorry for him - the pressure on him to deliver may will destroy him. I hope I am wrong.

And, very scarily...

Far too much money, prefer [Jack] Rodwell any day.

Henderson’s departure – again, viewed retrospectively – was probably too hasty. Steve Bruce got that summer completely wrong in terms of signings, and before Christmas was out of the door. The sale of Henderson ripped some heart out of the team, and the club began to spiral.

However, for Jordan. It’s been a stellar career– and turning 31 in a week’s time, he’s still got plenty left in the tank... hopefully enough for a season or two back where it all started, too.

England v Romania - International Friendly
Bring. Him. Home.
Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images
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