Jordan Henderson says the popularity of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has softened the rivalry between England and Germany, ahead of Tuesday’s clash at Wembley.
The Liverpool captain has developed a close relationship with the German coach since he arrived at Anfield in 2015, and says Klopp’s engaging personality has won him many admirers in England.
“Yeah, the gaffer at Liverpool has been very influential,” Henderson said.
“The charisma he has got, a lot of people love him even if you’re a neutral fan. He’s had a big part [to play] in English football in the Premier League.”
Henderson also revealed Klopp texted him at the end of the Euro 2020 group phase on Wednesday night, when it became clear that England would be playing Germany in the last 16.
“As soon as the final whistle went he just sent me a smiley face emoji!” he said.
Henderson won his 60th England cap when he came on at half-time against Czech Republic on Tuesday, and at the age of 31 he knows he has an important role to play in helping England’s youngsters prepare for the enormity of a game against Germany in a major tournament.
“We have quite a young squad,” he admitted. “And that can be a positive thing. A lot of them go out and just enjoy the game, play with no fear, and that’s what they need to do again on Tuesday.
“Go and enjoy it, go and show everyone how good you are, but use the passion and emotion in the right way to give you energy for the game, because that can be the difference.
“As an experienced player I can help with that, and make sure we are in the right frame of mind going into the game, making sure training is at the right level over the next few days.
“But everyone is confident, feeling good, and we have a few days to prepare for a huge game. A lot of the lads have already played in big games – Champions League finals, cup finals, big games for England – so they’re used to those, even though they’re young, and I’m sure they’re looking forward to this one on Tuesday.”
England have the third-youngest squad at the tournament, behind Spain and Turkey.
By contrast, World Cup winners Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels were both recalled to the Germany squad for the Euros, despite having not played for their country for more than two years. The Germans have 12 players aged 28 or over.
However, Henderson refuted any suggestion that their opponents are past their best.
“We still give them a lot of respect. They’re still a top, top team with top players, so it will be a tough game for us,” he said.
Henderson also believes England’s squad is mentally tougher than groups he’s been involved with in the past.
“I wouldn’t like to compare us with other teams. But the mentality has changed with us over the years, because of what we’ve experienced together as a team.
“And we need to use that come Tuesday and going forward in coming years. It’s a big part of the game.
“With the ball it’s extremely important to keep it, especially against Germany who have got really talented players who can dominate games.”
Henderson hinted England won’t change their cautious approach when it comes to deciding the tactics for the match.
“You need to be solid without the ball, defensively solid, so we need to continue to do that because they have players like Kroos – a world-class player who can hurt you with time and space,” he said.
“We need to be sure that without the ball we are really solid, and when we get it we need to be calm and composed, but confident with it too going forward, because we have some fantastic attacking players that can hurt any opposition.
“If we can get the ball into them and let them go and do their thing, we should be in for a really good night on Tuesday.”