Jordan Henderson’s decision to reject a move to Fulham was a ‘blessing in disguise’ which played a key part in his development into one of Liverpool’s key players – and then their captain.
Henderson, the midfielder, was offered to the Cottagers in summer 2012, shortly after Brendan Rodgers’ appointment as Reds boss.
He was one of the signings of the Kenny Dalglish era who had failed to impress at Anfield, and Rodgers wanted to axe the England international in a swap deal for Clint Dempsey.
The deal never went through, however, with Henderson deciding to stay at Liverpool and fight for his place.
And it is fair to say he has far exceeded all expectations, developing from fringe player to key midfielder – before being named Liverpool captain to succeed club legend Steven Gerrard.
It was something of a sliding doors moment for Henderson, and he admits he benefited from having to face such a situation at such an early time in his career.
“That was a crucial period in my career,” Henderson exclusively told talkSPORT. “Not only my Liverpool career but my career in general.
“I thought that moment was big, and it was a tough moment, but one that I feel helped me, looking back now.
“I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have that moment. It was tough at the time but thankfully it worked out okay in the end.
“To be fair to Brendan, he was brilliant with me after that point; he helped me grow as a player and as a person, and I really matured under him.
“It was a blessing in disguise really.”
Despite Rodgers wanting to axe Henderson, the now Leicester boss had no problems utilising the midfielder after he decided to remain at Anfield.
He started only 16 Premier League games throughout Rodgers’ debut season as manager, but became a key player the following year as Liverpool came so, so close to winning their first ever Premier League title.
The season after, Rodgers rewarded Henderson by naming him Liverpool’s vice-captain – a role which was made permanent when Gerrard left the Reds in 2015.
“It was a huge honour,” Henderson added on being handed the armband for the first time. “Especially at the start until that point it was a whirlwind really, in terms of my progression as a player.
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“Obviously [Rodgers] had seen the responsibility and leadership within me and felt I could lead Liverpool, and that gave me a lot of confidence.
“Without Brendan I wouldn’t be where I am today; he’s got a big part to play in my career so far.”
Despite Henderson’s successes under Rodgers, Liverpool started to falter after their 2013/14 near miss.
Shortly after naming Henderson permanent captain, Rodgers was sacked and Jurgen Klopp appointed, with Liverpool returning to their former heights under the German genius.
But Henderson says the failures under Rodgers have helped him as a player, and gave him the motivation to skipper the Reds to Champions League glory last season.
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“When you are at finals or going for titles and you are so close, but you don’t manage to get over the line, it is really difficult,” he finished.
“But at the same time I always use that to the best of my abilities in terms of wanting to put it right.
“I always want to keep going and improve and go one step further, and I use it as a motivation to be able to get that opportunity again and again and again.
“And thankfully in the summer that was a big moment because after all the hard times when we missed out on [titles], we managed to get over the line.”
You can hear our exclusive interview with Jordan Henderson in full on talkSPORT from 11am on GameDay this Saturday, ahead our three LIVE Premier League commentaries