Jordan Henderson urges an end to political blame game

‘Just stop the blame games!’: Statesman-like Jordan Henderson sends a message to Matt Hancock and the political critics following the Footballer of the Year’s charitable efforts to the NHS

  • Jordan Henderson’s NHS charity efforts came from a desire to help the nation
  • The Footballer of the Year set up the #playerstogether movement to help NHS
  • The Liverpool captain praised footballers’ campaigning during lockdown

Footballer of the Year Jordan Henderson says the impetus behind organising the huge charitable effort to support the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic peak came from a desire to bring the nation together at a time of crisis.

The Liverpool captain, who was named Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year last week, was instrumental in coordinating Premier League captains to set up #PlayersTogether in support of the NHS Charities Together.

Henderson, speaking as he received his award from the FWA, said the controversial comments made by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who had suggested that footballers should take pay cuts at the peak of the crisis, were ‘irrelevant’.

Jordan Henderson wants an end to the political blame game that took place during lockdown

The Liverpool captain was named Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year on Friday

Henderson insisted that he disliked the politicking and blame game associated with those kind of comments and had wanted to create something more unifying.

‘(His comments were) irrelevant to me,’ said Henderson, who succeeds Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling in winning the award, which was first won by Sir Stanley Matthews in 1948. ‘This is stuff that I personally don’t like — blaming other people and blaming each other. That’s the biggest problem for me, everybody is out to get each other, everybody is out to make a political stand.

‘I think the Premier League and the players across the board showed that you can put all that aside and come together and do something for the country to help people who are going through a tough time. When you go through hard situations you need everybody fighting together to make change.

Henderson says Matt Hancock’s comments about footballers taking pay cuts were ‘irrelevant’

‘The most important thing for me, and this is just my personal belief in life, is that you need people together to make change and be successful. I think Liverpool Football Club and Liverpool as a city can show that really well.

‘It was a big positive out of a really bad last few months. To put rivalry aside and for all the captains and players’ representatives of all the clubs in the Premier League to come together and to support and help the NHS staff and volunteers for all the work they were doing was really powerful and meant a lot to us.

‘I think we’re all really proud of what we did over that period and the captains and the players across the board were fantastic and I think it made a big difference to all the NHS staff.

‘I spoke to all of the captains and we agreed that it was something powerful we could do to help the people that needed it the most. Not only financially — of course, we raised a lot of money for the NHS Charities Together — but I think the biggest thing when I spoke to Ellie (Orton, chief executive of Charities Together) was the emotional side.

Henderson was at the heart of #playerstogether movement to help the NHS during the crisis

‘A lot of people love football and they look up to us and idolise a lot of players up and down the country. So for that to be flipped and for us to look up to them and do something for them and support them, I think made a massive difference psychologically and it gave them a great boost at a really tough time.’

Henderson now wants to use his profile to continue the initiative, citing the work done by Marcus Rashford in forcing a government U-turn on free school meal vouchers through the summer — and the role players had in highlighting frustration at continued racism by taking the knee before games and using the Black Lives Matter slogan.

‘Marcus is a perfect example of that and what he’s done is incredible,’ said Henderson. ‘Raheem Sterling, as well, has been big over the last few years in terms of the racism and making a change in that sense.

Marcus Rashford led a successful campaign to allow free school meals for kids to be extended

‘All of the captains, all of the players across the Premier League, I couldn’t speak highly enough of what they’ve done over the last few months to support the people who needed it the most in the NHS. And also in trying to make change in the Black Lives Matter campaign and trying to use their profile and platform to make change in a positive way, which I feel as though we’ve done really well over the past two months or so.

‘I know footballers will get stick — and maybe sometimes rightly so — but I think the overall majority of the Premier League and footballers in general, they’re just human beings at the end of the day.

‘They do care and they just want to help use their position to make change, whether that is the NHS and the pandemic or a Black Lives Matter campaign to make change against racism.

‘I think that’s important and we showed that we can come together and put rivalry aside and try to make real change for the bigger picture.

Raheem Sterling has been vocal in his support for the Black Lives Matter campaign

‘What we’ve done so far is incredible, not only for the NHS but for the Black Lives Matter campaign. And I have to say, it is across the board — it is every single club captain and all the players across the Premier League who have been involved in these things.

‘In the future, if we have to come together then I think it’s a good platform for us. I think it’s been a really powerful thing, a really positive thing that we’ve done over these past few months. You never know, in the future.

‘We can maybe use it for other things, for people who need help the most and to make change for the better.’

30-year-old Henderson was finally able to lift the Premier League title for Liverpool this week

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