On-loan Hibs midfielder Liam Henderson’s quest for an elusive league title-winning medal could end with him winning two in the same season.
Remarkably, he could even be emotionally involved in a third if his parent club Celtic clinch the Premiership title, and Hibs and Rosenborg, the club where he was on loan earlier this summer, do likewise in their respective leagues.
The Norwegian season reaches a climax in November. This is long before the business end of the Scottish equivalent, which ploughs on through the winter. But while it might seem as if Henderson is spinning plates, he assures Hibs fans that his complete focus is on his current side, and their promotion aims.
Henderson does, however, use “we” when contemplating Rosenborg’s prospects, which sums up this dizzying spell for the 19-year-old as he reaches a crucial stage in his development.
“I am in line for a medal if we [Rosenborg] can win the league and we are well clear at the moment,” he said. “So if Hibs were to win the Championship that would be two medals in the one season, which wouldn’t be bad!
“First and foremost the aim for Hibs is to get promoted. That’s what the boys want to do,” he added. “Hopefully we can get that done.”
Should Rosenborg also win the title, then so be it. They are currently top by a distance of seven points. It would at least make up for Henderson’s anguish at missing out by one game on a league title medal last season. He played nine times for Celtic while the minimum number to qualify for a medal is ten.
So as well as a talented player, Hibs have got themselves a hungry one. Better still, the West Lothian-raised Henderson can boast some Hibs connections. His grandfather was a Hibs supporter and Henderson went with him to some games in the period when the Easter Road side were an attractive team to watch under Tony Mowbray.
“I came to a few games when I was younger so I knew what the club was all about,” he said. “I’m from Broxburn so that’s pretty local.
“I would go to the bigger games, the ones against Hearts, Celtic and Rangers. It was good because at the time Hibs played great, entertaining football. It was good to watch. Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson were the ones I enjoyed watching most because they play in a similar position to me. It was strange to then play with Broony because I have looked up to him and admired him.
“He’s been brilliant for me so far,” he added, with reference to their time together at Celtic. “He’s the type of guy who when he speaks you listen. He has given me a lot of help in training and also playing matches. I spoke to him before I came here and he told me it’s a great club and the way they want to play football will suit me.”
While Brown might be a mentor at Celtic, Henderson’s father Nicky has done most to shape his career. Henderson Senior was able to speak from experience having also played senior football, starting out at Raith Rovers, the side Hibs face today at Easter Road. Now 46, he will be in the stand watching his son this afternoon, as he always is.
“My dad has been a massive influence on me,” said Henderson. “He ran me here, there and everywhere. He has passed on advice and I am extremely grateful for everything he has done.
“I just hope to repay him and my mum for everything they have done for me. I remember him towards the end of his career, he was a bit older by then. I went to a few games and watched him and I have seen footage of him as well.
“He was at Stirling Albion and Stenhousemuir then and coming to the end of his career. But it was good to see him, even if I can vaguely remember it. I have two little brothers so ever since we were young we kicked a ball about.
“It has inspired me watching my dad play – and trying to do better than him. He keeps telling me he has done it all and I need to try and better that. He tells me he was a big game player so I need to try and get that in my make-up.”
Henderson’s biggest game to date in a Hibs jersey was the first one he started, the 1-0 defeat by title rivals Rangers last weekend. He was a stand-out but is the first to admit he passed up a fine chance to open his account for the Easter Road side, when the score was still goalless.
“I can’t go back and change what happened,” he shrugged. “I just hope I can take those chances when they come again in up-coming games.
“It was a big chance and I know I should have scored. But it is in the past now. I am looking forward to keep building on my performances and doing well here.”