Dean Henderson, the Manchester United goalkeeper, acknowledges that he would still be playing in the Football League if he hadn’t taken the risk of signing for Stockport County at such a young age. When Henderson was fresh out of the Academy, he spent time with the non-league promotion hopefuls.
Following that, he had loan spells with Grimsby Town, Shrewsbury Town, and Sheffield United (twice). Each of those situations has made an impression on Henderson, who is now 25 and contemplating his next move after being supplanted as number one this season by long-serving David de Gea.
The United goalkeeper, who was once capped by England, had a temporary move away from Old Trafford vetoed in January. But what makes him think that joining Stockport is the “greatest decision” he’s ever made?
Henderson revealed in a lengthy interview with MUFC media: “Jordan Pickford went to Carlisle at the start of his career, and that was an eye-opener for me. He was a member of the England squad and was on his way to Everton. That was the road I needed to take.
“I remember being there [Stockport] as a small child, and I just liked it. As a little lad, it was difficult and extremely difficult. It was eye-opening for me to enter that division. I’m grateful for the chance provided to me by the manager at the time, Jim Gannon, who stuck by me despite my poor performance.
“As a goalkeeper, I believe that playing at that level is definitely more difficult than playing in the Premier League since it is a completely different game. You have to take it on the chin because it’s harsh, rugged, and ready.
“Certain aspects have now been incorporated into my game. Going into a changing room full of men for your first loan is always difficult. It turned out fine in the end, but it was extremely difficult at first. It is for this reason that I am sitting here today.
“I’d definitely be in League One today, on my first loan, if I hadn’t [gone out on loan]. I battled for it, and I still believe it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”