There was once a time when putting Jordan Henderson’s name in the same sentence as Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard’s would have invited laughter and ridicule.
Since captaining Jurgen Klopp’s sleeping giants to a Champions League victory (having fallen heartbreakingly short the prior year in Kiev) and a first Premier League title in 30 years, however, the perception has changed.
No one is under the illusion that the England international’s talent stacks up close to the ludicrous, club-carrying levels of the 2005 Miracle of Istanbul hero, but you’d struggle to find many pundits who don’t consider the 31-year-old to be a seriously good footballer.
That being said, of a greater degree of importance than his ability is Henderson’s leadership skills and experience.
In the starting-XI favoured by Gareth Southgate for England’s semi-finals clash with Denmark, only three players have won the Premier League title over the course of the last five seasons; only one has won the Champions League.
Only one player has done both in the same amount of time and he’s been sitting on the bench for most of the tournament: Jordan Henderson.
Seen to be the sort of pivotal player that prevents Liverpool heads from dropping, the kind of leader the club sorely misses (as was demonstrated by the side’s lacklustre performances last season whilst the skipper was sidelined), the No.8 is captain material made flesh.
Had an injury in February not ruled him out for the rest of the domestic campaign, there would have arguably been a serious case for Southgate to start the former Sunderland star in his midfield.
As far as the captaincy is concerned, there would have been no dispute – at least in the ex-Middlesbrough boss’ mind – over who should have taken the armband.
Certainly, with Harry Kane having led the side over the tournament, a changing of the armband at such a late stage in the tournament would be far from advisable.
Nonetheless, if you’re going into a first Euros final – a final that carries great significance not only for the nation but for also the manager to fully vanquish the demons of his Euros past – you couldn’t put your faith in someone better than Jordan Henderson to see it through.
Every other call Southgate has made has been vindicated, regardless of how bold, but now is the time to go all in on a decision that will divide England fans – starting the Liverpool captain on Sunday.