Roy Keane is responsible for quite a bit of Jordan Henderson’s early development according to Sunderland’s former academy director.
Ged McNamee, Sunderland’s academy director when Jordan Henderson was breaking through at the Stadium of Light, has credited Roy Keane with nurturing Henderson’s talents.
Apparently, Keane spotted something special in Henderson from a young age and made a point to personally mentor him in midfield in training.
Keane, who managed the Black Cats between 2006 and 2008, was also a big fan of Henderson’s mentality after his response to a critical team talk following a reserve game.
“He had the drive to be a player and the manager Roy Keane saw something in him that he liked,” McNamee told the BBC.
“After a reserve game that had gone badly, Roy asked Jordan and a few other lads if they thought they could play in the first team and when Jordan said ‘yes’ it showed him he had a bit of bottle about him.
“When he was called over to train he would quite often play in matches alongside Roy in central midfield. So as a 16- and 17-year-old he would have someone of that stature and quality talking to him, coaching him and telling him what he needed to do.
“The manager was on at him all the time but I think it drove him on to improve and want more.”
While still an admirer of his talents, Keane has not been afraid to ridicule Henderson in recent years, with his most recent criticism of the Liverpool and England midfielder coming as recently as last weekend.
But there’s no doubting that Keane was right with his early faith in Henderson’s ability, despite Sunderland’s concerns about his size when Henderson was just 16 years old.
“When we were making decisions on players at 16 there were big question marks about him,” McNamee explained.
“The medical department did some tests and the consensus was that he was going to grow but he was the last one through the door. We spoke to the family and it was quite an emotional meeting because there was a lot of pressure taken off their shoulders, but he flourished once his body settled.”