It's five years and a day since Jordan Henderson stepped out of the long shadow at Liverpool.

As the irrepressible Steven Gerrard called time on a storybook career-for-the-ages at Anfield, it was Henderson who would succeed the legendary midfielder as Reds captain.

A poisoned chalice, was how some viewed it. After all, how could someone possibly follow in the footseps of a player who many champion as the club's greatest ever?

"Jordan has grown as a person and as a player since arriving at Liverpool and is ready to take up this challenge," said his manager at the time, Brendan Rodgers, while Henderson declared himself "delighted" at the "great honour and a huge privilege" he had been handed.

A few months into the new gig, Henderson had skippered his side to the League Cup final as Jurgen Klopp's arrival coincided with a sharp upturn in fortunes.

Defeat on penalties would be the result as they were forced to settle for a runners-up medal within six months of Klopp's project would end the wait for league title No.19.

"With a little bit of luck we win the game and lift the trophy, but it just wasn’t our day," Henderson said. Nor would it be Liverpool's day when they were beaten in Basel in the Europa League final a few weeks later.

The former Sunderland youngster was an unused substitute in Switzerland that night as a heel injury played havoc with the final weeks of his season.

"It’s the worst feeling ever," Henderson reflected shortly after. "That’s why you want to try and make it right because it does stay with you."

Steven Gerrard passes the captain's armband to Jordan Henderson against Chelsea last season. Henderson will be confirmed as Liverpool captain before the end of the week Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine
Steven Gerrard passes the captain's armband to Jordan Henderson

He would indeed "make it right." But it wouldn't happen overnight.

The encouraging signs for Klopp's Liverpool were evident, but it would be a further three years before Henderson got his hands on a winners' medal as captain.

Heartache would rear its head once more in Kiev as Henderson skippered Liverpool to another silver medal, this time in the Champions League final of May 2018.

Twelve months later, a runners-up finish would again beckon for Henderson and his team-mates, as 97 points proved to be insufficient to land a first league title in three decades.

Liverpool are Premier League champions

For a long time, it seemed like Henderson was destined to be Liverpool's nearly-man. The potless skipper who came so close.

“It is difficult, really difficult,” he said. "I know people will look at me and say ‘you didn't get over the line in the Champions League or World Cup semi-final’ but it's not me, it’s the team.

“After the Champions League final it was so difficult to take but you have to use it in the right way. The same with the World Cup. And each time I have always reacted well.

"Of course in the beginning maybe you need some time away but in the end when you go through different emotions, then you think ‘Okay, let's go again’.

Events in Madrid on June 1 of last year changed all that, of course, as the Reds won the Champions League.

Henderson finally cast aside his own tales of near falls as the narrative around the Liverpool captain was transformed almost overnight.

Suddenly, the Wearside native was no longer destined to peer into Anfield's trophy room without seeing his own accomplishments inside.

The sight of him using the European Cup as a foot stool on the flight back to Merseyside will go down as one of Liverpool's great images.

The critics and the nay-sayers dwindled in numbers and those who had always questioned the decision to give Henderson the armband beat the hastiest of retreats.

Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana of Liverpool with the Champions League trophy during the flight home from Madrid
Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana of Liverpool with the Champions League trophy during the flight home from Madrid

Now, he was Jordan Henderson - Liverpool's European Cup-winning captain.

But if June 2019 saw the midfielder join a select club that includes only Gerrard, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Emlyn Hughes, Farringdon's finest is now in a class all by himself.

After a glittering, trophy-laden 13 months, Henderson is now the only Liverpool leader to have won the Champions League, Club World Cup and Premier League for the Reds. You can throw the UEFA Super Cup into that mix, too.

Modest to a fault, perhaps, the England international was keen to side-step such a lofty pedestal when he spoke to a handful of journalists that included the ECHO less than 24 hours after he was confirmed as a Premier League winner.

"I don’t really think about stuff like that. I’m thinking ‘we’ve done it. We finally got over the line and won the Premier League.’

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"After so many years, to give back what the fans have wanted so badly, feels amazing for all of us involved at the football club. I’m just honoured and proud to be part of it."

In the form of his career prior to a season-ending knee injury at Brighton on Wednesday, the calls have been growing for the England star to be named as the PFA Player of the Year, given how influential he's been the country's outstanding football team this term.

And it is right and fitting that he will be the one who first gets his hands on a Premier League trophy at Anfield given his displays this season.

But Henderson's remarkable achievements on the pitch this season were dwarfed by his actions off it during one of the most uncertain periods in history earlier this year.

Henderson did not wish for the publicity, but his efforts to help create the Players Together initiative to donate to an underfunded NHS during a worldwide public health crisis were worthy of widespread praise.

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The Anfield armband is a symbol of something more than what happens on the pitch. The captaincy goes beyond what you can do when the whistle sounds at this football club.

Henderson, to his eternal credit, has understood that from the day he was given it on July 10, 2015.

“He is absolutely one of the great captains of this club," Jurgen Klopp says. "So at the end of his career when he is looking back there are a lot of very good reasons why he should be really proud."

Liverpool, too, should be proud that he is theirs.