Niall Quinn's dream for Sunderland includes the night Jordan Henderson leads them out at the Stadium of Light for a European tie. 'That's the ultimate aim,' he says. 'Whenever that is, I don't know.'
The Sunderland chairman wants England's newest international at the club for the rest of his career of course but he is also a realist.
With the scouts from Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham all regularly charting the spectacular progress of the 21-year-old Sunderland-born midfielder, Quinn knows the day will come when he will see a name flash up on his mobile and he will be dreading the call which follows. It could even happen next month when the transfer window re-opens.
It would take a monumental offer to lure Henderson from his beloved Wearside. Even off the record, Quinn won't throw figures around but he isn't daft. He knows the price that would make him have to think very seriously.
That's why he refuses to be drawn into any hyperbole or false promises. You won't hear Quinn vow never to sell the youngster, whose attitude and commitment to his profession are as exemplary as his performances.
At least the Sunderland chief can sleep safe in the knowledge that Henderson, who has been training with the club since he was eight, will not be manufacturing a move but is already living the dream with his 50 Premier League appearances for the club.
Quinn said: 'When Jordan was being linked with a few clubs, his father rang me and told me `this is nothing to do with us, Jordan just wants to play for Sunderland' and I had to tell him, of all the players, Jordan really is the last one I am worried about. I know Jordan just wants to play for Sunderland.
'He's lovely young lad, always smiling, always wants to stay out longer, to practise free-kicks and shooting and he has run himself into the ground in recent weeks. He hasn't pulled a little groin injury - which he might do when he is 27 and wised up.
Spectacular: Henderson has lit up the Stadium of Light this term with his displays
'I have nothing but praise for him, he is a fantastic advert for the academy and for young footballers. I don't want to put him on a pedestal, it is important he goes out and enjoys himself but he is so driven in a way that is so respectful of everything that goes on around him. He is a real breath of fresh air.'
Quinn was still a player, when Aston Villa came calling with a £16 million offer for his strike partner Kevin Phillips. Chairman Bob Murray turned it down and Sunderland were relegated within a year.
The current chairman's aim is to be completely open about Henderson's future, but it would be no exaggeration to say he is dreading the call from one of the big guns.
He added: 'The Bosman ruling changed everything and when you have a player who is valuable and running his contract down it is a nightmare for football clubs. At least Jordan has another four years so we are comfortable.
A realist: Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn
'Other factors come into the play like agents, tapping up, etc but the one great thing about Jordan is that he is an exceptional human being who has been reared impeccably and I can't really envisage a situation where that will suddenly change.
'But circumstances some times dictate you have to do things another way and I have to be totally open and honest with people.
'If a ridiculous offer does come in for Jordan, or any of our players, I have to weigh up losing the player, to the money we will get, and how we can spend it. It is a tough one.
'I am always mindful of the fact Bob Murray held on to Kevin, we were relegated and sold him 15 months later for £1.5 million. That £16 million would have meant the club stayed in the Premier League.
'But it's a tough call and you have to be strong, I am not saying I want Jordan Henderson to go but I am giving an example of the dilemmas you can face.
'That is why we must be open. The game has changed, it is not like the old days when you could say `this player is not going anywhere'. There are a lot of factors at play and I am not going to try fool anybody and come out with all this talk that Jordan will stay here forever. It is impossible to say that.'
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