Not often will you find ‘Burnley player’, ‘Irish’ and ‘wears a headband’ in the same sentence. But with Jeff Hendrick, nothing is left to the imagination.
A Dubliner with 54 Irish caps and 114 Premier League appearances, he’s made himself a mainstay at Burnley F.C. He acts as the engine in the middle of the field, the core of the team and the tireless component that maintains cohesion in defensive and attacking manoeuvres.
His versatility knows no bounds, with the ability to play as Central, defensive and attacking midfielder; even playing right and left midfield in some instances for Burnley. Sean Dyche commented on his versatility in midfield after an impressive performance against Everton: "He's done well for us. We have asked a lot of him. We have used him in a number of different positions that sometimes aren't natural to him and over time he has delivered good performances for us.” Most football fans would name James Milner as the exemplary versatile engine, but Hendrick is his underrated equivalent.
The most suitable one-word description of Jeff Hendrick is... selfless. He only scores when he knows he can. His specialty is recycling balls in the final third, acting as a ball-winning midfielder but in an attacking position. If a shot is deflected and shoots into the air like a baseball, Jeff Hendrick will step up and catch it on the bounce to find the assist. His dedication to keeping possession has been key to Burnley’s consistence in the Premier League for the last few seasons.
Starting out at Dublin’s St. Kevin’s Boys in 2008, he overcame Osgood-Schlatter disease and was picked by a scout at Derby County. At Derby, managed by Nigel Clough at the time, Jeff impressed enough in the reserves to gain a spot in the first team. Over 7 seasons at Derby, Jeff gained 214 appearances in all competitions, before being spotted by Sean Dyche at Burnley.
His move to Burnley F.C. in 2016 broke the club transfer record at $10.5 Million, proving that his useful attributes were just perfect for the Premier League stage. On 14 September 2019, Hendrick scored in his 100th Premier League appearance for Burnley, during stoppage time against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Due to his important stature at Burnley playing against the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham, he was selected by Ireland to play in Euro 2016. Playing for the boys in green, he was part of the team that upset the world stage by beating the favourites Italy in a 1-0 victory reminiscent of the 1994 World Cup. Not only was Hendrick integral to this game, but he also helped Ireland nearly beat the eventual winners and hosts France.
According to Lancs.live, Burnley fans are ‘unanimous’ in seeing their Irish talisman sign a renewed contract at the club, and it isn’t difficult to see why.
Let’s hope he signs a new contract at Burnley and sees Ireland get to Euro 2020!