Jordan Henderson's touching tribute to AC Milan star Simon Kjaer ahead of Liverpool clash
Jordan Henderson hopes to give Simon Kjaer a warm welcome to Anfield on Wednesday evening as Liverpool host AC Milan in the Champions League.
The Reds captain declared Kjaer has "the respect and admiration of everyone in football" after his decisive action helped save Christian Eriksen's life in June.
Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark's Euro 2020 fixture against Finland. Skipper Kjaer instantly understood the magnitude of the situation but remained calm and cleared Eriksen's airways before performing CPR.
The Milan defender also consoled his teammate's partner and his heroic efforts, alongside those of Denmark's medical team, saw him awarded the UEFA President's Award.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Kjaer for the "true leadership" he displayed ahead of the visit of Milan, and Henderson also paid tribute to the Dane in his match programme skipper's notes.
"I’d like to welcome AC Milan's Simon Kjaer to Anfield this evening," wrote the 31-year-old. "He set new standards of leadership during Euro 2020 when Christian Eriksen fell ill.
"I can’t even begin to imagine what that experience was like for the Denmark players and I’m hugely relieved that Christian continues to make a recovery, but as a captain I couldn’t help but be impressed by the way Simon conducted himself and led his team.
"I have seen that UEFA have given Simon and the Denmark medical team the ‘President’s Award’ and that is both fitting and deserved.
"But I hope Simon also knows that he has the respect and admiration of everyone in football for what he did that night."
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Kjaer's presence at Anfield adds to an already-special occasion, as it is Liverpool's first European night in front of a capacity crowd since March 2020.
"A European night at Anfield with fans. Wow," wrote Henderson. "They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, but in this case we always knew. That’s why we’ve been so desperate to have these nights back.
"Tonight was always going to be special, no matter who the opposition was. The fact that our opponents are AC Milan only makes it even more special."
AC Milan (seven) and Liverpool (six) have been crowned champions of Europe 13 times between them, making the pair two of the most-successful teams in the continent's history.
Their only previous meetings came in two Champions League finals, with Liverpool performing the famous 'Miracle of Istanbul' in 2005 to come back from 3-0 down at half-time and win on penalties in the Turkish capital.
The Italian giants claimed their revenge two years later as Filippo Inzaghi scored twice in a 2-1 victory during which Dirk Kuyt grabbed a late consolation goal.