Belfast Telegraph

England v France: Jordan’s ready for the big time

By Sam Wallace

He does not drink and he considers a good night to be one spent in front of the television watching Match of the Day, preferably with Sunderland winning in the style they did at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Welcome to the world of Jordan Henderson, the new generation of English footballer.

It was a good weekend for Henderson, 20, who turned up at Stamford Bridge on Sunday already knowing he was in the England squad and subsequently put in a performance worthy of an international footballer.

It followed another day of headlines suggesting he is on Manchester United's radar, not to mention Manchester City and Chelsea too.

The man of the moment was at England's hotel in Hertfordshire yesterday, an unassuming new boy in the squad whose accent immediately locates him.

He is Sunderland born and bred and has been at the club since he was seven-years-old.

With that in mind, was there ever a chance he might go elsewhere? “No. My dad is a Sunderland fan, all my friends are Sunderland fans and I am a Sunderland fan. I got asked to go on a trial when I was seven and I have been ever since.”

Now that England's golden generation is ebbing away, the one that is coming in to replace it has some abstemious characters who take their professional lives very seriously. Henderson is young enough to be able to say that his role models growing up were David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.

Beckham's generation were inspired by Paul Gascoigne and Italia '90. Not Henderson. He was born the day after England drew with Holland at that World Cup.

Black Cats boss Steve Bruce admitted that Sir Alex Ferguson is interested and that, if push came to shove, it would be difficult to stop United taking Sunderland's best young player.

“It just gives us a little bit more confidence,” Henderson said. “I don't think about it too much. I don't let it affect my football or anything like that. My best friend is a Manchester United fan, so he's going like: 'What's going on here, then?' He's the only one who gives us a bit of banter about it.

“To be honest, my mates have been good since school. They used to go out but they'd probably tell me not to. Which is a good thing. But none of them are bad lads. They didn't really drink at a young age or anything like that. I didn't really go out much. I had to be back by a certain time, according to my mam.

“A fun night out for me was Sunday night after the Chelsea game. Watching the highlights. I never go out. The only time I go out is Christmas night when the whole team goes out for team bonding and stuff like that.

“My mum and dad have been a good influence on me. They have brought us up really well, they have always kept my feet on the ground and not let us get carried away.” He has already played for two managers who had stellar careers at United, in Roy Keane and Bruce, and curiously Henderson says that he never felt intimidated by Keane. “I felt I could go to him anytime and talk to him about anything. I did that a couple of times.”

The England midfield of the future would ideally be built around the likes of Henderson, Jack Wilshere, Jack Rodwell and Josh McEachran, but there comes a time when all that potential finally has to demonstrate that it deserves its place. Henderson's chance has come very early but he certainly looks like he is ready.

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