Footballer of the Year Henderson has had 'exceptional' individual season, Klopp insists
(Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp believes Jordan Henderson's 'perfect mix' of talent and attitude makes him a wholly deserving recipient of the Footballer of the Year Award.

The Football Writers' Association announced the Liverpool captain as the winner on Friday morning.

It caps off surely the greatest week in the 30-year-old's career after he lifted the Premier League trophy on Wednesday night.

Henderson finished ahead of Kevin de Bruyne, who is pursuing the league's all-time assist record, and Marcus Rashford, who successfully rallied against child poverty last month, in the voting.

Klopp hailed the immense fighting spirit of an individual who has cemented his status as an Anfield legend after once being offered to Fulham as part of a swap deal for an ageing Clint Dempsey.

But he also stressed that Henderson has shown on the pitch that he is one of the outstanding players in the division.

"His resilience made him the player he is now," Klopp told reporters on Friday afternoon, as quoted by liverpoolfc.com.

"The question is always for footballers what makes you the player you are? Is it the talent or is it the attitude? The answer is a mix and Hendo is the perfect answer for that. 

"With all the things people said about him in the past before I came in, I don’t know what it was exactly, but he made his way.

"It is absolutely deserved. Yes, other players played an exceptional season, 100 percent, but if you want to have a guy that really fought his way through to the point where he is now, it is just absolutely deserved, one of the best players in the league.

"This year, everybody acknowledged that and I am really happy about that. It is so well deserved and I am really happy for him and really proud of him. He's an exceptional person, to be honest."

Growth in stature

Klopp also feels that Henderson shoulders the Anfield armband with distinction.

Indeed, the FWA recognised that when the season was suspended he 'personally rallied club captains to establish #PlayersTogether'.

This initiative has seen millions raised for the National Health Service in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and has been viewed as a basis for every players' expression of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I think over the years, he really found the perfect way to deal with all the situations, which are important or happen to you when you are captain of such a big club, such a big team," Klopp reflected. 

"He grew in that role in an exceptional way, I cannot imagine a player who would have done it like this. That makes him the wonderful person he is today."

A rare moment of agreement

Among the other frontrunners in the voting were Henderson's team-mates Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane.

Van Dijk, last season's PFA Player of the Year, has once again seen his side to the best defensive record in the league.

Mane's goals, meanwhile, have been worth 18 points to the supremely dominant Reds.

And still, Klopp would have given Henderson his vote for his 'special' contribution.

"I'm not happy with everything you [the journalists] write, but obviously you have a similar view on things in a few departments at least. He would've been my choice as well this year.

"As I said, in our team we had exceptional performances over the whole year, but the package with leadership, attitude and consistency was really special of Hendo this year. I'm really happy for him."

VAVEL Logo