I’m a former Premier League star – now I’m an extreme mountaineer looking to face my fear and climb Everest

DARIUS HENDERSON is aiming to become the first professional footballer to climb Mount Everest – despite his fear of heights.

The striker spent one season in the Premier League with Watford in 2006-07.

Darius Henderson is aiming to reach new heights by climbing Mount EverestNews Group Newspapers Ltd

And he is hoping to use his experience in the top flight will help him as he scales new – and unbeatable – heights on top of the world.

But Henderson admits he does struggle with big drops.

And considering he was recently on a perilous Mont Blanc ridge where any mistake or slight misstep in crampons would have been fatal, his venture as an extreme mountaineer is certainly not a task for the fainthearted.

The 42-year-old – who plans to go up and down the tallest peak within 12 days – admitted part of that fear is what drives him.

Henderson told The Independent: “It does scare me a little bit… to overcome my fears is probably a driving force behind this, I can only put it down to that.

“I have to dedicate a lot of time to the training aspect, something that needs planning. It’s a sacrifice over a number of years. You can’t just sign up for Mount Everest.

“There’s a process and a journey, which takes a lot of sacrifice and dedication to achieve that end goal, so it’s kind of like reliving my life as a footballer. The training, the focus you need, the bravery, just in a different field.

“I loved matches, I loved competing, I loved the battle. While I’m doing these climbs, and I’m on the mountain, it is horrible, it’s gruelling, it’s painful, but to get to the top is all worth it. And to be able to say, ‘I’ve done that mountain.’”


Henderson spent 18 years as a pro, starting out at Reading before permanent spells with Gillingham, Watford, Sheffield United, Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Leyton Orient, Scunthorpe, Coventry and finally Mansfield.

The target man scored in the Championship play-off final in 2006, firing Watford into the Premier League where he grabbed three goals, and joined the Blades for £2million two years later.

He was forced to retire in 2017 due to a lack of cartilage in the vertebrae of his neck, preventing him from heading the ball properly.

But despite the issues, he is continuing to put his body through its paces trekking up mountains around the globe.

The change in path started with a hike up Snowdon in January 2019 and at the end of 2021, he decided to pursue the dream of conquering Everest.

I’m not going there to die

Darius Henderson

Henderson can now go up and down Snowdown FOUR times in a day and has done extreme winter skills training in Scotland.

Cotopaxi in Ecuador – now classed an active volcano – Italy’s Gran Paradiso, Europe’s highest point Mont Blanc in France and the South American equivalent Aconcague in Argentina have all been ticked off.

And now final preparations have turned to completing the incredible feat in Nepal.

Henderson added: “I enjoy being in an environment where I can’t help but be in survival mode, in a tent, 6,000m in the air, freezing cold, minus 20, waiting to summit.

“You can’t sleep very well but it all adds to the theatre of being able to say you’ve done this.

“I’ve got five children but then my driving force is to make sure that I’m fully prepared and as fit as possible because, let’s face it, I’m not going there to die.

“I’m going there to summit and to achieve something that under one per cent of people are able to achieve.”

Henderson scored his penalty for Watford in the 2006 Championship play-off finalNews Group Newspapers Ltd

The striker managed three goals in the Premier LeagueNews Group Newspapers Ltd

Henderson was a target man up front but retired due to neck cartilage issuesAction Images – Reuters

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