Soccer

Milner rejected invitation to lift Champions League trophy when Liverpool won it

Jordan Henderson joined the ranks of Steven Gerrard, Graeme Souness, Emlyn Hughes and Phil Thompson by leading Liverpool to European glory as captain in 2019.

The Reds beat Tottenham 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid and were crowned Champions League winners for the first time since 2005, with Henderson playing a key role in that success.

However, team-mate James Milner has revealed Henderson sought to share the iconic trophy lift before being told he deserved his moment in the spotlight.

Liverpool stars past and present praised the armband-wearer as part of a club documentary celebrating the midfielder’s 10-year anniversary at Anfield, and Milner detailed Henderson’s humility: “He was asking someone else to lift the trophy with him and it was like: ‘No Hendo, this is your moment and you’ve earned the right, you deserve the right to go along with the other captains who have done it and go down in history for this club.’

“That sums him up right there, wanting to share that moment. It’s all our moment, him lifting the trophy, but every single player would have wanted him to lift it and lift it on his own. I think my words were something like: ‘If someone else lifts it with you I’ll rugby tackle them off the stage!’”

June 9 marked a decade since Henderson moved to Merseyside from boyhood club Sunderland. He’s made 392 appearances for the Reds and more recently helped Liverpool end their 30-year wait for an English top-flight title in 2020.

One can understand why Henderson picked Milner to help him in hoisting Europe’s greatest prize, a sign of recognition for the fatherly figure he’s also taken on during a six-year spell at Anfield.

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The 35-year-old had won Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup crowns during his five years at Manchester City, but the veteran’s role at Liverpool has been that much more crucial to success.

Milner continued: “That again shows his selflessness. He’s always thinking about other people before himself but he’s our leader. There wasn’t a change in how he acted after that, it’s not like he was any different before that, but you could just see that he was more comfortable in that role I suppose.

“I think other people stood up and took notice of what he brought to the team as well. Obviously he had his ups and downs at the club before that. Like every footballer he had hard times and stepping into Stevie’s shoes is no easy task at all. So, the way he’s done it, the manner he’s done it, the way he’s led the club: I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Henderson is gearing up for England’s summer campaign at Euro 2020, with Gareth Southgate’s side set to kick off their tournament against group rivals Croatia on Sunday.

Liverpool’s captain recently responded to comments made by Roy Keane suggesting he wasn’t fit enough to be in the squad and said he found the criticism “quite funny,” adding: "But in terms of stuff like that, everyone's going to have an opinion, everybody's going to think they know better than everybody else.

"But for me all my focus has been on the last couple of months, working as hard as I possibly can to be in a position where I can contribute in the tournament – and I'm very thankful I'm in that position now."

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