Jordan Henderson claims leaving Liverpool never crossed his mind during a testing start to his spell at Anfield, with the Premier League title winner always determined to “prove people wrong”.
The England international was snapped up by the Reds in the summer of 2011, with his potential prised away from Sunderland.
Forming part of a star-studded squad on Merseyside looked to be a step too far for Henderson, as he was quickly linked with another switch to Fulham.
No deal was done and the 30-year-old has gone on to become a worthy successor to Steven Gerrard as Liverpool captain.
Henderson has got his hands on Champions League and Premier League trophies, while also being named FWA Football of the Year for 2020.
He has silenced his critics in style, and the hard-working midfielder says that was always his intention after seeing many write him off.
Henderson told the Liverpool Echo: “There have been ups and downs over the last few years and throughout my career. There are always going to be tough times in your career and your life.
“It’s about how you deal and react to those setbacks. You can use them as motivation to push yourself forward and want to improve. You need those setbacks in your career to become stronger as a player and a person also.
“Obviously, it wasn’t always easy at the start of my Liverpool career and although a lot’s been made of it, it was never really an option for me to leave. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted, and it gave me even more motivation to prove people wrong.
“Brendan Rodgers was very good in that regard – he said he would help me improve and learn the things I needed to learn to get into the team more regularly. Tactically I became more aware and had a better understanding of the game, and going into the finer details really helped.
“When you go through tough periods, it’s about finding a way to deal with it. Your family helps, but sometimes you don’t want to bring that back into your home life.
“I’ve dealt with a lot on my own, but I’ve had great people around me as well such as my team-mates, managers and staff. I’ve been lucky enough to have so many good people at Liverpool Football Club that have helped me on my journey.”
One of those to have helped Henderson reach the very top of the game is current Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, with the German tactician continuing to be showered with praise on the back of his efforts at Anfield.
Henderson said of his charismatic coach: “Jurgen has a good relationship with all the players. But he has a great balance in terms of the respect he has for them, knowing when to put an arm around them and knowing when they need a kick up the backside. You can see the players respond to him.
“The manager deserves a huge amount of credit for what he has done since coming to Liverpool, not only the team but the whole club top to bottom and also the fans as well. He has brought everybody closer together and what he has created is so special.”