EPL

England's Henderson says big-stage near-misses will make Three Lions stronger

By Sports Desk December 02, 2022

Jordan Henderson is convinced England's experience of coming within touching distance of glory can make them better equipped to go the extra mile – because it is a process he knows all about from playing for Liverpool.

Defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley was a crushing blow to England, who felt they were on the brink of a first major title in over 50 years.

Gareth Southgate's team also went mightily close to reaching the 2018 World Cup final, missing out after losing to Croatia in the semi-finals.

They are getting close repeatedly, and this is relatable for Henderson given his 11-year Liverpool career has seen its ups, downs and close calls.

The Reds finished as runners-up in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League during Henderson's time at Anfield before laying their hands on each of those trophies, and he can see why England's situation is comparable.

"I suppose you could see similarities in terms of getting so close and just failing at the last bit until we ended up winning," Henderson said.

"I don't like to make comparisons with other teams, and especially club football, but I do feel like when you go through experiences together, especially good ones, but at the end you don't get what you want, that can make you really stronger as a team.

"I keep my runners-up medals. Not many players get to cup finals so I'll always respect the process of getting there. But when you just miss out on your dream then it can hurt a lot and that is what drives you to get better."

Henderson, an FA Cup and EFL Cup winner as captain of Liverpool last season, said complacency "won't be a danger" when England tackle Senegal in a last-16 tie on Sunday.

His former Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane was ruled out by the Africa Cup of Nations champions just before the tournament began, after a cruel injury blow, but Senegal still beat Ecuador and Qatar in the group stage.

They are a team to be taken seriously, and Henderson, quoted in the Guardian, said: "We can say they are missing Sadio Mane, but they got into the knockout stages without him and they will be feeling confident.

"They are used to winning. We have just got to keep focused on what needs doing, not get too carried away, not look too far ahead."

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