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Liverpool - Football: Top Five Captains

16 June 2022 09:53:42 EST
Jordan Henderson helped Liverpool to Premier League glory

On Friday, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson celebrates his 32nd birthday with the former Sunderland man safe in the knowledge that he is one of Liverpool's greatest-ever leaders.

An often maligned figure in his early years at the club, Henderson has blossomed under Jurgen Klopp and the role of captain and elder statesman has suited him to a tee.

He joins the pantheon of heroic figures to have skippered Liverpool over the years as the Reds have picked up multiple trophies to become one of the most successful clubs in world football.

Here are the five greatest armband-wearers the Anfield club have had.

Billy Liddell - 1938-61 (Captain 1955-58)

Scotsman Liddell spent his entire playing career at Liverpool with his time there spanning four different decades.

He was a classic winger but was also versatile enough to play through the middle and was noted for his speed, strength, aggression, and goalscoring prowess.

A league title winner in 1947, Liddell assumed the captaincy role later in his career when Liverpool were in the second tier and such was his influence, the club were often described as "Liddellpool".

Overall, in 534 games he scored 228 goals and former manager Bill Shankly rated him as one of the best players he coached.

Emlyn Hughes - 1967-79 (Captain 1973-78)

Emlyn Hughes was the captain of Liverpool during the golden era of the 1970s under Shankly and mainly Bob Paisley.

He was another versatile player who could play in midfield, defence, or left-back and was known as "Crazy Horse" because of his energetic and rambunctious style of play.

Hughes took over the captaincy from Tommy Smith in 1973 after he and Shankly had a public falling out and although there was some strain in the dressing room, rarely did personal feelings get in the way of performing well for Liverpool.

Hughes amassed 665 appearances for Liverpool and led them to four league titles, two European Cups, and an FA Cup.

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Alan Hansen - 1977-91 (Captain 1985-88 and 1989-90)

Liverpool's ability to maintain their unbelievably high standards was so admirable during the 1980s and more star players would emerge during this decade.

Hansen was one of them - arriving at the club from Patrick Thistle as a 22-year-old, he would go on to establish himself as a rock at the back for the Reds as they continued to dominate domestically.

In 1985, when Kenny Dalglish was appointed player-manager he chose Hansen for the captaincy role and in his first season with the armband would lead them to the double, beating Everton by two points in the league and then securing a 3-1 win in the FA Cup final over their Merseyside rivals.

Hansen didn't get the opportunity to play European football during his period of captaincy due to fallout from Heysel disaster but domestically, he was characterised as a steely leader and he would go on to win two more top-flight titles as skipper.

Steven Gerrard - 1998-2015 (Captain 2003-15)

Possibly the greatest ever Liverpool skipper, Gerrard was Mr Liverpool for well over a decade during a period where the Reds were defined by breathtaking moments rather than consistency at the top.

The boyhood Liverpool assumed the captaincy in 2003 after taking over from Sami Hyypia and even in his early days, he was noted as a fiery competitor with great leadership qualities.

They were deployed best in two finals where Gerrard almost single-handedly led Liverpool to glory - Liverpool were 3-0 down against an AC Milan side packed with world-class players when Gerrard scored the first comeback goal before helping them fire back to level 3-3.

A year later, Liverpool needed a hero in added-time when 3-2 down to West Ham in the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium, and Gerrard, despite his legs being full of cramp, smashed home a 30-yard rocket to take the game to extra time and penalties, resulting in another successful shootout.

Not winning a Premier League title will always be a millstone around Gerrard's neck (the crucial slip against Chelsea in 2014 being the closest they came) but for the most part, Gerrard played in Liverpool teams that ultimately didn't have the quality.

He is easily one of the greatest ever to pull on the Liverpool shirt.

Jordan Henderson - 2011-present (Captain 2015-present)

Gerrard's departure left a gaping hole but it has been filled expertly by the midfielder, not something that would have been predicted when he joined.

He looked to have big potential at Sunderland and Dalglish sought to snap him up in his second spell but for a few years many fans questioned what his role was.

However, he became more of a regular under Brendan Rodgers and Klopp's arrival was a key moment with the German having full belief and confidence in Henderson.

His steady style nicely complements the dynamism and exhilarating talent around him and he has always maintained his role in the side even when other midfielders were brought.

Henderson has led Liverpool to two Champions League titles and most significantly of all was the man to lift the Premier League trophy in 2020, ending an agonising 30-year wait for a top-flight title.

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