Jordan Henderson echoes Eric Dier concerns after ‘horrific’ Champions League final experience

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

Jordan Henderson has become the latest England player to express fears over his family attending matches after they were caught up in “horrific” scenes outside the Euro 2020 final and last season’s Champions League equivalent.

The Liverpool captain revealed how his wife and two young daughters had to escape the carnage ahead of England’s defeat to Italy last summer through a side door, and says his dad told him he was “done” going to games following the treatment of Liverpool fans in Paris around June’s meeting with Real Madrid.

Having recovered sooner than expected from a hamstring strain, Henderson is part of the England squad for this month’s Nations League matches against Italy and Germany. It is the first international break since the Three Lions were forced to play a game against Hungary behind closed doors as punishment for fan behaviour around the Euros showpiece.

Groups of ticketless fans fought with stewards in order to force their way into the ground, with some storming into the area of seating reserved for players’ families.

“Some of my family, got caught up in it which wasn’t ideal,” Henderson said. “I think it was pretty horrific. When I spoke to some of my friends and my family and my dad, it was pretty bad.

“My wife and kids had to try and get in a side door which they wouldn’t let them in at the beginning and they were trapped.

“She was trying to get the kids away from what was happening and eventually, I think after about 15 or 20 minutes, somebody recognised that she was my wife and she was lucky. Because they knew it was me they let them in quickly.

“But if that person didn’t, it could have been trouble. My dad was involved a little bit, I think some of the some of the players’ dads, like Harry Maguire’s, was hurt badly.”

Kick-off in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid was delayed due to the scenes outside the ground, which organisers initially blamed on “the late arrival of fans”.

The reality soon emerged that thousands of supporters had been held up at dangerous bottleneck checkpoints before being denied access to the stadium at closed turnstiles.

Some were tear gassed by local police, while others told of being mugged by gangs of local youths and Henderson believes only the lack of retaliation from Liverpool fans averted a major disaster.

“In Paris in the final, I think if the fans weren’t respectful there could have been a lot more problems, to be fair, so I think the fans were amazing,” Henderson said.

“It was the authorities and the people around the stadium that weren’t and were causing issues.

“But I suppose as a fan, if you’re going to the game and you don’t feel comfortable and you feel threatened by whatever situation, you’re not going to want to go again. It’s as simple as that really.”

The experience, Henderson says, has made his father uncertain of whether or not he will fly out to Qatar for this winter’s World Cup.

“My dad said that after the Champions League final that that was him done,” he said. “But when it gets closer to it, I think there’s a lot of security elements and things that are going on in Qatar that I’m sure will will make people more safe.

“But when you’ve had those experiences sometimes you think is it worth risking it? We will have to see closer to the time.”

Earlier this week, Henderson’s England teammate Eric Dier spoke of his concerns over worsening fan behaviour after he had friends and family targeted by abuse during Tottenham’s Premier League meeting with Chelsea earlier this season.

“My family and friends have had a couple of experiences over the last couple of years, which has really shocked them and probably put them off going to future games,” Henderson added.

“Hopefully that changes in the near future when it gets closer to the tournament. But when you see scenes like you have in the Euros final, in the Champions League final then they don’t really want to go and put themselves in that situation again.”