Exclusive Jordan Henderson interview: Coutinho's time at Liverpool has passed

The Liverpool captain spoke to SPORT ahead of their game against Atletico Madrid this week

En su mejor actuación esta temporada en la Champions, Coutinho marcó un hat trick en la goleada del Liverpool ante el Spartak | BEINSPORTS

Guillem Balagué

We often look for indecipherable secrets in the successes of the teams. Or a moment. Or extraordinary leadership. And in collective sports, it's about many things. And to do them all well. The captain of the best team of the moment, Jordan Henderson, brings us closer to the interiors of Liverpool before their confrontation with Atlético Madrid on Tuesday.

How do you feel? 

Really good. I think the whole team feels good physically and mentally. But there's still a lot to play for. 

If you had to write a book about how you arrived here, how would you explain it? 

It's been like a journey. You learn as you advance. You experiment with new things, you return more mature and you manage things better. You just have to keep working hard, keep believing in what you're doing. Obviously there have been bad moments. I would highlight the finals against Real Madrid and Sevilla, we also lost a League Cup final to Man City. All those things after the arrival of the coach were disappointing and difficult to accept, but they helped us. You learn from that and it brings you together. We got out compensation last summer and we're hoping for more. 

I suppose for a team to become champions, you need a goal scorer, a goalkeeper and a leader. Is that the case?

Yes, but you need more than that! You need more than one leader, which we have. And you need incredible players with a good mentality that want to work hard, improve and work as a team. We have a top-level manager, of course, and there are many other things. You can also add in spectacular support. 

How would you describe Jurgen Klopp's leadership?

Since he arrived at the club he made everyone believe we were going to achieve something special. Even when we were losing finals, you noticed that the manager was reacting differently; he believed so much in his players and what was being done that it was only a matter of time and that's what happened. 

You have developed as a player. You're more than a player, there are more layers to you. How do you manage that? 

Learning, listening to the right people. Obviously the manager had a big influence in that, also the players around us, who I learn as much as I can from. 

What was the lowest point you had to come back from and that you see as a point of inflection?

The lowest point is injury. That's the darkest place you can be as a footballer. That was just before the manager arrived, so I began the first season from there. You try to participate, to be close, but it's difficult if you're not playing. It's really tough to get involved from off the pitch in what's happening. You don't realise then, but you see later, that you overcome the dark times. 

What was said after the defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League?

The manager knew that was not the end, just the start. He gave us the conviction to keep moving forward and to know that we were on the right path. 

And after the loss to Madrid?

Very similar. Obviously I think the team was in a very different place then compared to after the Sevilla game. I felt we had improved a lot since then. Against Madrid, it was really tough to lose, especially with the way the game went, I felt we were playing well. But, again, looking back, these setbacks were positive. 

And after winning the Champions League?

Finally, we won a big trophy. And later, once you've partied, celebrated and enjoyed yourself, we still felt, as a team, that it was not the end. I am 29 and I am still learning every day. You can always improve in football, regardless of your age. 

The team plays a little less but keeps winning...

Sometimes you have to find a way to win. You're not going to be at your best every day or play as we know we can. On those days when you're not exactly yourself, it's about finding a way to win. 

Pie de foto | AUTOR FOTO

Winning so often against all types of teams, do you fear losing or are you hungry to win more? 

We have established a fantastic base and it's simply about the next game, the next game... And to give everything in those 90 minutes, whatever happens, win, lose or draw. Then you can say you gave everything. 

The signings of Alisson and Van Dijk have helped.

I think we have to give credit to people like Virgil and Alisson, but other player have arrived and have established themselves well. Those two are incredible, we have a really good group of people, not just the best players, but fantastic people. That helps. 

How is training?

Intense. I wouldn't say it's long, but when we train, we train at 100 percent. There's no idea about reserving yourself for the weekend. We train as we play. 

It's back to the Wanda this week. Give us some memories of that night?

There are a lot. I think the final whistle, the end and knowing what we had done, that it was over. Obviously, sharing the moment with my dad (who overcame cancer) was a great moment for me personally, lifting the trophy... 

Did you think the departure of Coutinho would create a crack? 

I felt that we had to strengthen again, of course. I thought that it was going to be a big loss for us, it would be for any team. But I felt it was a moment to take a step forward. The guys lifted their performances and we fixed things without him quite well. 

Would you have him back?

Phil is a good friend of mine. I think he's an exceptional football, he has it all, he has a great attitude and he loves football. So, of course, for me, he would be welcome back, but it doesn't depend on me. It's probably best to ask the manager that. The guys adore him, so if you ask any of them, I am sure they would say they would love to have him back. But I think his time here has passed, he's moved and I hope that in the near future we see the same Phil that we saw here. 

Has talking about Premier League title celebrations been banned?

It's a banned word around here. I've been in football long enough to know that nothing is impossible. 




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