Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has been named the 2019-20 Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association.
The midfielder was confirmed as the recipient of the prestigious annual prize, decided by the votes of professional football writers and broadcasters across the country, two days after lifting the Premier League trophy for the Reds at Anfield.
Henderson received more than a quarter of the votes, holding off competition from Kevin De Bruyne and Marcus Rashford, as well as teammates Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson Becker also received votes as the champions dominated the poll.
Henderson said: “I’d like to say how appreciative I am of the support of those who voted for me and the Football Writers’ Association in general. You only have to look at the past winners of it, a number of whom I’ve been blessed to play with here at Liverpool, like Stevie [Gerrard], Luis [Suarez] and Mo [Salah] to know how prestigious it is.
“But as grateful as I am I don’t feel like I can accept this on my own. I don’t feel like anything I’ve achieved this season or in fact during my whole career has been done on my own. I owe a lot to so many different people – but none more so than my current teammates – who have just been incredible and deserve this every bit as much as I do.
“We’ve only achieved what we’ve achieved because every single member of our squad has been brilliant. And not just in matches. Not just in producing the moments that make the headlines and the back pages but every day in training.
“The players who’ve started the most games for us this season have been as good as they have been because of our culture and our environment at Melwood. No one individual is responsible for that – it’s a collective effort and that’s how I view accepting this honour.
“I accept it on behalf of this whole squad, because without them I’m not in a position to be receiving this honour. These lads have made me a better player – a better leader and a better person.
“If anything I hope those who voted for me did so partly to recognise the entire team’s contribution.
“Individual awards are nice and they are special and I will cherish this one. But an individual award without the collective achievement wouldn’t mean anywhere as much to me – if anything at all.”
Jürgen Klopp paid tribute to his skipper in a personal video message.
“Hello my friend. One of the big questions in football is, ‘What makes a proper player?’ or, ‘What is more important: is it talent or is it attitude?’. I think the easy answer is that without talent you are nothing, without attitude you will stay a talent forever,” the boss said.
“So you are the perfect example that the mix makes the difference. Who would have thought that the young fella coming from Sunderland to Liverpool with big dreams would be, one day, the best player of the Premier League? Maybe you dreamt of it, I’m not sure you thought it would happen, but I know you are confident enough to have big dreams.
“But now is the moment where everybody saw it. Everybody saw what a great player you are, everybody saw what a great personality you are, what a great character you are. I know the human being behind the player – you would deserve an award for that as well.
“So, many congratulations. Well deserved, outstanding achievement. What a year you had, what a career so far you had and the best news: there’s still a lot to come. I wish you a wonderful day.
“Enjoy the moment because you can enjoy it, you don’t have to play at the weekend at Newcastle. Enjoy the moment and again, best player of the Premier League: wow!”
A tireless, tenacious presence in the centre of Klopp’s team, Henderson led by example as Liverpool responded to finishing second in the top flight in 2018-19 despite a club-record 97 points by surging to the club’s first title in 30 years this term.
The England international missed just four league matches before injury brought a premature end to his campaign earlier this month, scoring four goals.
Thirty-one wins from 37 games see the Reds top the Premier League by 18 points ahead of this weekend’s final day, while Henderson also lifted the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup this season.
Off the pitch, the 30-year-old has been widely praised for his contributions to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, including vital donations to foodbanks on Merseyside and an integral role in the #PlayersTogether initiative supporting NHS frontline workers.
Henderson is the 12th Liverpool player to be awarded the accolade, after Ian Callaghan (1974), Kevin Keegan (1976), Emlyn Hughes (1977), Kenny Dalglish (1979 and 1983), Terry McDermott (1980), Ian Rush (1984), John Barnes (1988 and 1990), Steve Nicol (1989), Steven Gerrard (2009), Luis Suarez (2014) and Mohamed Salah (2018).