Jordan Henderson claims leaving Liverpool was “never an option” for him, despite criticism having edged him towards the exits at times.
Having been taken to Anfield by Kenny Dalglish in an £11 million deal during the summer of 2011, 12 months later it appeared as though that adventure may be brought to a close.
Brendan Rodgers was prepared to part with a man who had struggled to make a mark on Merseyside, with Fulham open to a swap deal involving Clint Dempsey.
Henderson was, however, to dig in his heels after an emotional period of consideration and is now club captain at Liverpool and a contender to fill a similar role for England on a permanent basis.
The 27-year-old told the Daily Mail on how close he came to being offloaded ahead of a Europa League clash with Hearts in 2012: “Brendan called me in and said ‘Listen, this is the offer’ and he asked me what I thought.
“It implied to me that he would let me leave and it was up to me. I went back to my room. I shed a few tears. I ended up crying a little bit because it hurt so much. I had the game that night to think about it as well.
“I spoke to my agent and told him what had happened and I said I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay and fight and try and improve and try to prove the manager wrong. My agent agreed. I spoke to my dad. He was gutted but he backed my decision to stay and fight.
“From that point, I just kept my head down. I knew I wouldn’t get as much game time as I wanted but I still had faith. I was young enough to get my head down, keep working hard, do my extra bits and prove them wrong and I feel I managed to do that by the time Brendan left.
“There are always those moments in football — and life in general — which can decide the path and the route you go down. For me it was never an option to leave.”
Henderson had faced criticism during a testing debut campaign with Liverpool, and has done at times since, but the hard-working midfielder has learned to turn a deaf ear to detractors.
He added: “I don’t like reading good things about myself.
“With the criticism and the negative things, I always think that makes me better. You need a little bit of good now and again but the good for me comes from the manager. That’s the good I enjoy, so if I’m told I’m doing my job right, brilliant. Anything outside of that, I tend not to get involved.
“I’m not particularly into people giving me credit. It’s not something I think about. It’s not important to me. The only thing that’s important is if I’m doing my job properly on the pitch for the team and for the manager.
“I can always accept criticism. Throughout my career, I’ve always had criticism and I think that’s good. Criticism’s healthy. It gives you that extra little bit inside you to prove people wrong, to use it as energy, to use it as fuel.”