By Carl Markham, PA
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson admits Luis Suarez played a big role in his own career and believes the former Reds striker deserves the appreciation of Anfield.
The Atletico Madrid player returns to his former home in the Champions League on Wednesday and looks set to start with Antoine Griezmann suspended.
His only other previous visit as an opponent was for the famous 4-0 semi-final comeback against Barcelona when the circumstances of the occasion did not lend themselves to a warm reception either before or after the game.
Suarez scored 82 goals in 133 appearances for Liverpool between 2011 and 2014 and was the main driving force behind their Premier League title near miss under Brendan Rodgers.
His time at Anfield was not without controversy, with suspensions for racially abusing Patrice Evra and biting Branislav Ivanovic, and he is an infuriating opponent to play against but Henderson believes his contribution to the club warrants recognition.
“When Luis was here he was phenomenal for a number of years, he was outstanding,” said Henderson.
“We all know he’s a top player for a long time, who produced so many good moments at Liverpool.
“The fans know that and will appreciate what he did at this football club – I don’t think Luis will be too bothered – so maybe not during the game but it would be nice after the game for him to get a nice reception from the crowd.”
Henderson admits he learned a lot from the tenacious Uruguay international.
“I took a lot from him. He helped us a lot when he was at Liverpool with the mentality side of it, how he was in training, he always wanted to win and he played through pain barriers and things like that,” said the midfielder, who still occasionally speaks to his former team-mate.
“He helped me massively and made me grow in confidence as a player and I had a good relationship with him on the pitch but also off the pitch as well.”
In terms of the prospect of facing him on Wednesday, Henderson added: “He poses a lot of challenges.
“He’s a world-class player who causes a lot of problems for defences, he’s always in and around the goal and if he gets a chance I’m sure he will take it so we have to be on our guard with him.
“Luis is a top striker who can cause any team problems.”