Jordan Henderson is “stronger” for having faced the challenge of succeeding Steven Gerrard as Liverpool captain, says Rickie Lambert, with the Reds skipper considered to be a “great professional”.
The England international midfielder endured a testing start to his time at Anfield and appeared destined to be written off as an expensive flop at one stage.
At 29 years of age, he has become a Champions League winner and a man likely to get his hands on the Premier League title in 2020.
Henderson has also been billed as a serious contender for the PFA Player of the Year award in the current campaign, with former team-mate Lambert delighted to see him getting the recognition he deserves.
The former Reds striker, who spent the 2014-15 season at Anfield, told Liverpool’s official website: “Brilliant, a lovely lad. I loved Hendo. A great professional.
“I’ve always been a big admirer of Jordan. When I first saw him – technically superb, mentally superb and physically superb.
“It was always going to be a little bit difficult taking over the reins from Stevie G. I thought he handled it brilliantly; he just kept his head down, came through it better, stronger and more determined.
“To see him lift the European Cup made me a little bit emotional. Seeing Adz [Adam Lallana] go over and hug him, it was a bit emotional because I know where he’s been.
“I was quite close to Hendo and obviously Adz when I was here. To see them two like that and especially Hendo lifting the trophy was unbelievable.”
Henderson has helped Liverpool to establish a record-breaking 22-point lead in the 2019-20 Premier League title race.
Jurgen Klopp’s senior squad are currently taking in their winter break, but are preparing to enter an important run of fixtures.
They can continue to edge ever closer to a first top-flight crown in 30 years, with Norwich next up on Saturday, while they also have a Champions League last-16 showdown with Atletico Madrid to come and an FA Cup fifth-round clash with Chelsea.