Jordan Henderson has continued to be overlooked throughout his career but the midfielder has more quality than he’s given credit for and can be key for England next winter
First, there was THAT pass at Old Trafford to set up Mo Salah’s hat-trick goal.
You know the one. The outside-of-the-foot number that was not so much hit as persuaded. And now this.
The give, go and dinked cross to plate up a routine conversion for Harry Kane, and then the give, go and finish for England’s third of this rout.
Not content with leading his club with utmost distinction, not content with representing his country with immense pride and diligence over so many years.
Not content with becoming one of the Premier League playing ranks’ most distinguished statesmen, not content with being an all-round good sort, Jordan Henderson has decided to become Kevin De Bruyne.
He turns 32 next June but is still having to prove that he is more than just an engine. He is still having to convince some that there is more to his game than leadership.
He is still having to debunk the myth that he is, primarily, a destructive operator.
He is still having to show many why his manager on Merseyside and his mentor at St George’s Park cannot speak highly enough of him.
Seriously, take some time to collate what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Gareth Southgate have said about former Sunderland star Henderson over the years. It is doubtful they hold any of their players in higher esteem.
And tell me you are a better judge than those two characters.
When Henderson’s name appeared on this teamsheet, there was the standard social-media sigh.
It seems an awful lot of non-Liverpool fans have not been watching Henderson that closely over recent seasons.
Quite simply, he is twice the footballer he has ever been given credit for. But that is not to say the qualities that are normally saluted are overplayed.
On the eve of this brilliant Wembley rampage, England coach Southgate had this to say about Henderson.
“He’s a very important player for us and you know what he brings as a leader and what he brings in terms of spirit and attitude to any team and the impact he has on others around him.”
Yep, we do know. And just in case we didn’t, Henderson reminded us in swashbuckling fashion in this swashbuckling team performance.
In truth, the absence of West Ham star Declan Rice gave Henderson his starting chance against the hapless Albanians, who looked shellshocked by half-time.
On the back of a lengthy injury lay-off, Henderson did not start a game at the Euros last summer and the cosy partnership of Rice and Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips was firmly established.
But, fully fit and in his pomp, Liverpool skipper Henderson should still be the benchmark for those two players.
And what has become noticeable is that with age has come more craft.
With experience, has come more guile.
It is as though Henderson, who has lifted Premier League and Champions League trophies for Liverpool in recent seasons, thinks all those years at the coalface have now given him the platform and the permission to express himself.
And he is doing exactly that.
Not quite De Bruyne, maybe, but don’t bet against him doing this sort of stuff in Qatar.