Saturday night saw England put in a superb performance to book a place in the last four of Euro 2020. Almost from the word go, we were on the ball and in control. Each of the four goals had their own special element, but one will live long in the memory of everyone associated with Sunderland AFC.
We were made aware of in the build up to the tournament that Jordan Henderson was yet to score for England; over 60 appearances and many, many stand out performances had yet to yield a goal.
Heading into the tournament, with his injury hit season, it seemed unlikely that Henderson would get much game time at the tournament. With the performances of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips shining through, his game time at the Euros looked even more limited.
However, he was given his chance as a substitute in quarter-final win and he was able to turn a fantastic team performance into a personal milestone. Henderson was brought on to sure up an England performance that had been almost faultless. After a cagey first half, Gareth Southgate’s men set out in the second 45 like a side determined to avoid any last minute stress.
The East Herrington lad replaced Declan Rice, who was one of three England players on yellow cards from the last 16 victory over Germany, shortly before the hour mark. Minutes later, he was wheeling away in celebration of a goal that was over 10 years in the making.
Mason Mount whipped in a corner and Henderson found himself in plenty of space in the box to nod home a goal that capped a superb England performance and a much deserved first goal for a man from Sunderland.
I, like many Sunderland fans, have been very proud of Henderson’s career since he left Wearside. I was in attendance at Manchester City in 2009 when he bagged his first senior goal for Sunderland in a bizarre 4-3 defeat. Although his first senior goal and his first international goal were 11 years apart, the passion shown following both were identical.
The ability Henderson demonstrated for Sunderland made it clear that he was never going to remain here for long, but despite his young age he shone for us. A big money move to Liverpool may have been too much for many, but, after a few doubts early in his time at Anfield, Henderson took the responsibility of leadership in his stride and has enjoyed a fantastic career on Merseyside.
We are always immensely proud of Mackems making their mark on the wider footballing world, and at present we have two academy graduates who are shining examples of everything it means to be associated with SAFC. Jordan Pickford has been a rock for England and never let his country down, and with Henderson playing in front of him, a large part of the English spine is made in Sunderland.
Jordan Henderson may continue as a sub for the remainder of this tournament, depending on how Gareth Southgate wants to line us up against Denmark on Wednesday. Whatever happens, however, it can’t be denied that he has been a huge part of the England revival of the last three years, and seeing him score the first goal for his country was the sweetest way to see us seal our place in the last four of Euro 2020.