Dean Henderson simply 'got' Sheffield United - and will always be fondly remembered at Bramall Lane

Ever since his first day, when he returned to his room at the Copthorne Hotel to find a bottle of the city's famous relish that bears his name, Dean Henderson made every effort to throw himself into Sheffield United.

By Danny Hall
Saturday, 22nd August 2020, 12:00 pm
Dean Henderson: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Dean Henderson: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Never before has a loan player connected with this club in the way Henderson did, before he waved an emotional goodbye to the Blades earlier this week.

Describing his United teammates as his 'brothers' in a message posted on his social media accounts, the young Manchester United goalkeeper admitted that he cannot wait for the next chapter in his career but there is no doubt that the story of his time at Bramall Lane is a successful one.

He arrived a little green, albeit confident, and sat in Chris Wilder's office on the day he signed, telling the manager he was there to help the Blades get promoted.

He kept his word, and for good measure returned for a second spell to help the newly-promoted Blades finish ninth in the top-flight. He returns to Old Trafford as one of the country's best goalkeepers, and surely on the verge of a senior England cap. If, or more likely when that arrives, there will be a lot of people at Bramall Lane who can, and should, feel proud for their part in it.

Henderson has undoubtedly been good for United but the player himself understands that the club has been good for him, too. He connected with the Blades' fanbase better than some players who wore red and white for years, because he understood what it meant to wear that badge on his chest. And how the supporters loved him for it, whether it was singing the Greasy Chip Butty song with them before kick-off or drinking in every moment of the promotion celebrations.

There were down times, too. Mistakes against Leeds and Liverpool, and disgusting abuse he received from the terraces and on social media after false accusations were thrown his way. In a revealing interview just after promotion, in the home dressing room at Bramall Lane, Henderson admitted to me that the abuse made him want to drive his car off the Snake Pass.

Coming through those dark moments, on and off the pitch, takes real character, and there was no shortage of that with Henderson. He has all the tools in his locker to go and fulfil his ambitions, of being Manchester United and England's No.1, and everyone at Bramall Lane will surely wish him well.

Henderson was a popular man with players, staff and fans alike: David Klein/Sportimage

As his parting message concluded on Wednesday: "Once a Blade, always a Blade."