Watching his dad Nicky play for the likes of Stirling Albion and Stenhousemuir helped ignite Liam Henderson’s passion for football.
The Hibs midfielder’s father, now 46, enjoyed a ten-year career in Scottish football, representing Raith Rovers, Cowdenbeath, Falkirk, Partick Thistle, Hamilton Accies and Clyde. Henderson junior is only old enough to recall the tail end of his father’s career, when he was winding down in the part-time ranks with the Binos and Stenny.
But, as a five and six-year-old boy, seeing his dad weave his midfield magic at not so glamorous venues such as Forthbank and Ochilview was enough to inspire Liam to take his own game to a level that earned him a place in Celtic’s academy.
“I remember dad towards the end of his career, he was a bit older then,” said Henderson. “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. I can vaguely remember it.
“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 says he was a big-game player so I need to try and get that in my make up. There is some good banter between us.”
Nicky and the rest of the Henderson family will be at Easter Road tomorrow to see Liam line up for Hibs against Raith Rovers.
“He started his career at Raith when he was about the same age as I am now,” said Henderson. “He’ll be at the game, he and my little brothers come to every match so it’s good to have that support there.
“My dad has been a massive influence on me. He ran me here, there and everywhere as a boy. 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.
“Ever since we were young, me and my brothers were kicking a ball about with each other. My youngest brother Euan (15) is at Celtic just now and my other brother plays boys’ club for Broxburn Colts. They love coming to watch me and I love going to see them, any time I get the chance I am there.”
Henderson’s family have evidently played a big part in his emergence as one of Scottish football’s most highly-regarded teenagers. Indeed, it was his grandfather who first took him to watch Hibs as a boy.
“My grandad is a Hibs fan and I came to a few games when I was younger so I knew what the club was all about,” the 19-year-old explained. “I’m from Broxburn so that’s pretty local, and good from the travelling side.
“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 [at Celtic] because I have always looked up to him and admired him. He’s been brilliant for me so far. He’s the type of guy who when he speaks you listen.”
Henderson has made a positive impression in his first fortnight at Hibs, where he will remain on loan from Celtic for the rest of the season.
He was in the thick of it for his new side in his first start at Ibrox last Sunday, impressing in the first half as the visitors asserted themselves on proceedings before he missed two good scoring chances either side of Rangers’ winning goal in the second half.
“I really enjoyed that game, it was a great atmosphere and the stadium was packed out – these are the games you want to play in. I felt we gave a good account of ourselves and we were maybe just a little unfortunate with the chances we missed.
“I can always improve and I am never really happy with the way I play.
“But it was a good team performance, that was the main thing we took out of it.
“I can’t go back and change what happened, I just hope I can take those chances when they come again in upcoming games.
[The first one] was a big chance and I know I should have scored but it is in the past now and I am looking forward to keep building on my performances and doing well.”