‘My time at Sligo Rovers is the highlight of my career

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Jeff Henderson in action against Mattias Mostrom and Magne Simmonsen of Molde during a UEFA Champions League Qualifier at The Showgrounds in 2013. Photo by Michael McGurrin.
By Alan Finn
   
W.B. Yeats famously referred to Sligo as ‘The Land of Heart’s Desire’.
    
The county has succeeded in capturing the hearts and imagination of many Sligo Rovers players over the years.
    
Among those players was Jeff Henderson, for whom his three-and-a-half years in Sligo left a lasting impression.
       
The centre-back recalls his final weeks with Newcastle United and how one visit to the North West convinced he had found a club where could thrive.
          
“If your contract at Newcastle expires in the summer, they would tell you three months in advance that it won’t be renewed so they give you an opportunity to go and get something sorted with a new club. I got a phone call from Ian [Baraclough] who had explained what he was looking for and he said he had seen me in a few reserve games when he was with Scunthorpe United, so he invited me over for a three week period and I remember when I came over I settled by the end of week one. The surroundings of Sligo are very similar to home and I was telling the group of lads that were here that I want to stay.”
            
Within a couple of weeks he was playing in a Europa League qualifier against Spartak Trnava, the kind of opportunity that confirmed his belief that he made the right move.
              
“It was one of the first games I was here for, I only got ten minutes but even that reassured me that this is a club I need to be at, this where I want to be, you could tell good things were happening here and I loved every single minute of it.”
         
Henderson arrived at a time when the defence was often unbreakable and knew the challenge that lay ahead of forcing his way into the team.
         
“It makes you keep your foot on the pedal and I hope Jason McGuinness and Gavin Peers would say the same about me signing as another centre-half, it is healthy competition and when I signed those two had the best partnership in the league. I knew immediately breaking into that defence was going to be a challenge, it was so settled, but I just came in and worked as hard as I could. I wasn’t playing every week and most of my games were at right-back that season, but even all that time I still knew this was where I wanted to be.”
           

For the full interview with Jeff, see this week’s Sligo Weekender newspaper – in shops now!

Alternatively, you can purchase an online edition here

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