In August Henderson followed in the footsteps of Denis Law, Graeme Souness and Joe Jordan, a select and prestigious group of Scots to play in Serie A. He started Verona’s first two games but the signings of Matteo Pessina and Sofyan Amrabat, who’s already on his way to Fiorentina for €21.5 million (£20 million) after a sparkling first year in Italy, made playing time hard to come by. Far from bitter about it, Henderson accepts that getting back in the starting XI was a tall order when Hellas, the revelation of this season’s Serie A, are eighth with a game in hand on the other Europa League contenders.
“When you’re out of the team and the team is doing well you can’t really say much or do much because you can’t change a winning team, it’s football. Even though I didn’t play as much as I would have liked I learned so, so much. I was really proud at the fact that when I left, the manager [Ivan Juric] came out in his press conference and gave me a mention saying I was a good pro and his staff learned a lot from the way I went about my business. And I think that’s why Verona are doing so well because you’ve got 25 players who every day in training are going hell for leather. The way I worked with Juric made me realise that’s how you need to work every day.”
Every Thursday the Croatian would organise a game in training Henderson likens to “a Champions League final” for its intensity. Those days feel like a long time ago now. Days when playing football, watching football and talking about football didn’t feel so trivial and frivolous.
“I can understand why people want to go to work,” Henderson says, “Because they can’t afford not to go to work. And when my mum, who’s a nursery school teacher, says that children go to school and rely on it for a hot meal and to get fed and there’s the prospect of that being disrupted, it is going to have a massive impact on thousands and thousands. Obviously there’s some people (who get it) but I don’t think the UK realises how serious it’s going to be. From my experience here, you have to just listen and do what you’re told to do.”