Jordan Henderson has revealed that England manager Gareth Southgate informed him that he had lost the captaincy of the national team to Harry Kane just four days before Liverpool’s Champions League defeat by Real Madrid.
Both Kane and Henderson have skippered England during Southgate’s reign after former captain Wayne Rooney announced his retirement, with the manager leaving them in limbo over who would wear the armband in Russia at the World Cup.
Southgate eventually announced last week that Tottenham striker Kane will be the man who leads England throughout their campaign, but Henderson has since revealed that he was informed about the decision in the lead up to Liverpool’s crucial final in Kiev at the end of last month.
“The manager rang me on the Tuesday in the week leading up to the final, I wasn’t thinking about it because of the final and that is where my focus was,” Henderson said on Tuesday. “When the gaffer told me I was really pleased for Harry and he is a fantastic player.
“Whether or not I am captain doesn’t matter, there are plenty of other leaders, Gareth is big on that and we don’t want to put too much pressure on Harry. That is important for Harry and for the group.
“Everyone is on board with what the manager is trying to do and to create leaders. He wants us to lead the group and take ownership and do it ourselves more.
“He has brought that to the camp and that will help certain players. It has a great feeling about it and hopefully we can show that in Russia.”
Henderson’s comment about the team culture under Southgate were echoed on Tuesday when the Football Association put all 23 squad members up for interview with the national press, which helped generate a feeling of togetherness and importance among the players and resulted in a much more relaxed environment than in the lead up to previous tournaments.
Southgate has also managed the Liverpool player in his squad – Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold – following their European exploits, and the Reds’ captain believes that the time he has been afforded to spend with his family has helped get over the pain of the 3-1 defeat by Madrid.
“It’s been difficult over the last 10 days. It was hard to take,” Henderson added. “I’ve had a little bit of time off and time with the family, which was important.
“It was good to get my head around it and have some down-time to refocus on what is important and that is the World Cup now. That is where the focus has got to be. It is a good thing, I get straight back to business.”