Suarez calls Liverpool star ‘role model’ after noticing huge improvements

Date published: Monday 1st November 2021 5:29 - Samuel Bannister

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Joel Matip and Jordan Henderson during Leeds vs Liverpool, September 2021

Jordan Henderson has been described as a “role model for English football” by his former Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez.

Suarez will be lining up against Henderson on Wednesday night when Atletico Madrid visit Anfield for their latest Champions League group match. Henderson is the last man standing from the Liverpool squad that Suarez left in 2014.

They were teammates on Merseyside for three years. Even though their paths have separated, they have both enjoyed plenty of success since.

Suarez earned a transfer to Barcelona after his stint with Liverpool, going on to score 198 goals for them. He left Barca for Atleti in summer 2020 – the same year Henderson lifted the Premier League trophy for Liverpool.

It marked the culmination of years of hard work for Henderson, who initially struggled to adapt to life at Liverpool. Eventually, he became a key player and captain – a role he retains to this day.

Suarez has certainly noticed how his former teammate has improved over the years. He now thinks Henderson has set an example for others to follow.

“I think he’s a player who’s improved a great deal,” he told UEFA.com.

“When he joined Liverpool, he came with the tag of somebody who had cost a lot of money. He was a young, English, coming from Sunderland.

“This may have put some pressure on him, but as he grew in confidence with the team, he took many things from [Steven] Gerrard, and from experienced players such as [Jamie] Carragher. He took things on board from me.

“I think that, as a captain, he has matured a lot. During his career, he has helped the club grow, with his personality and playing better football. He’s a role model for English football.

“Winning a Premier League title with Liverpool must have been fantastic for him. And it’s made him greater than he already was.”


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Suarez recalls Liverpool transfer decision

Elsewhere in his interview, Suarez reflected on when he wanted to leave Liverpool one year before he did – and how Brendan Rodgers and Steven Gerrard talked him out of it.

“I think I’d been at Liverpool for a year and a half when Brendan took charge in July 2012,” he said. “Back then, I had opportunities to sign for other clubs who were getting in contact with me.

“But he phoned me when I was in Uruguay on holiday, to tell me that he had another way of thinking, that he wanted to change the club and its philosophy, that he wanted the club to get back in the Champions League and fight to win big trophies, that he was going to make the team play great football.

Luis Suarez Cardiff v Liverpool 2014

“He asked me to believe and trust him. I enjoyed that chat. I liked his conviction, the philosophy he wanted to implement at the club. So I talked to my agent and the club to say that I didn’t want to leave, that I wanted another opportunity to be successful at Liverpool.

“That year wasn’t as good as we wanted, but ideas were already pretty clear. So then the 2012/13 season goes by, and I wanted to sign for Arsenal, since Arsenal had played in the Champions League every season prior to that.

“I had some further discussions with the coach, as well as with Gerrard. He was the one that convinced me.

“I told him I wanted to keep being successful, that I wanted to play in the Champions League. So, he said to me, ‘If this year we keep improving as we have been, and you’re at the level you have to be, next year you’ll be able to play for Bayern München, Real Madrid, Barcelona, or whatever club you like. You’ll have the chance to choose, but stay for one more year’.

“I remember that talk with Gerrard, and I remember everything the coach said to me. He texted me things like, ‘Stay for another year, just try it’. And, well, that was the year we were close to winning the Premier League.

“That’s thanks to the team efforts, obviously, but especially to the philosophy and conviction Brendan Rodgers conveyed to us as the coach.”

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