Each great story has its roots and where Dean Henderson is concerned a good place to start is a football pitch at Frenchfield, Penrith, 10 years ago. Carlisle United’s under-13s are playing Burnley and come full-time the boys from Lancashire have run up a cricket score.

“It must have finished about 15-0,” says Ben Benson, United’s then academy goalkeeping coach. “Dean wasn’t at fault for any of them, but when me and Eric Kinder [Carlisle’s head of youth] walked over at the end, he came to us in floods of tears.

“‘Dean, what’s the matter?’ we asked. He said, ‘I should have done better with the third goal.’

“We started laughing and were saying it would have been 24-0 but for him. It’s interesting, though. Straight away his reaction was, ‘This is what I should have done better’. He then explained that he should have gone with his longest arm and tipped that shot around the post.

“The next part of the story is that, before going home, he asked if we could stay at Frenchfield and do some more work. So we did. Everyone else has left and we’re there for another 20 minutes, working on something he’d perceived he should have done better. He’s probably tired but he desperately wants to do it.

“That trait – that intensity, that desire, is unbelievably powerful.”

It has taken Henderson into some heady places since then – and, tomorrow the Cumbrian will make another big stride, for at 22 he will become the county’s newest Premier League player, when his loan club, Sheffield United, face Bournemouth.

Henderson, since those Carlisle days, has moved to Manchester United, made a series of loan moves, won England Under-21 caps and earned the approval of the senior national boss, Gareth Southgate. Benson, who is now first-team goalkeeping coach at Blackburn Rovers, trails his development with pride.

Benson says Manchester United’s elite coaches have “built the house” of Henderson’s ability after the foundations were laid in boyhood. He came to Carlisle capable of playing outfield but after opting to be a keeper, his potential immediately shone.

“You just knew in your gut,” says Benson, from Embleton. “Compared to what else we’d seen within our games programme, or scouted locally, he was a little bit special.”

United played Henderson above his age group but it was not just in performance that he was shaped. “When we first started, we had nothing in terms of facilities,” Benson recalls. “We trained on grass with second-hand light off the Astroturf at Caldew School [in Dalston] and the kids would be filthy, mud dripping off them.

“We never had proper goals. You kicked a ball too hard and it was in the cow field. Me and Dean laugh about it now but with the benefit of hindsight it developed a survivor’s mentality – you don’t have the best of facilities but you make the best of it. Players find this inner belief to strive to get out of it.”

Benson joined Carlisle’s academy staff at a similar time to Henderson’s arrival as an under-9. There was a family connection too (Henderson’s mum Yvonne, a nurse, had cared for Benson’s grandfather in his final days) and so the two Cumbrians built a rapport. The coach knew the boy had come from a “stable, solid family” where, as Henderson has described before, his older brother and friends would put him in goal and take shots at him.

“You can’t underplay the importance of that,” Benson says. “It builds resilience, problem-solving, trial and error.”

Henderson’s beginnings, in Whitehaven’s Hillcrest area and playing for Whitehaven Miners FC, were followed by Carlisle. “Because he was such a quick and intense learner, you could fast-track him,” says Benson. “You only had to tell him something once.”

Technically, he stood out. “Firstly, it was his willingness to dive at feet, to be brave. Before the likes of Alisson and Ederson came along, I think goalkeeper has always been quite an unfashionable position. So straight away when you see somebody who has that willingness to play there, it’s massive.

“Dean had the bug. Sometimes when you’ve been an outfield player, there can be a reticence, but Dean nailed his colours to the mast and said he wanted to be a goalkeeper. His ability to retain and act on things also made him a good technician – one-v-ones, handling, shot-stopping, high balls…the penny would drop.”

For Benson, Neil Rudd and United’s other coaches, their feelings were balanced between marvelling at the talent and knowing it would not be at Carlisle for long. “When he was about 12, we used to bring him in with the [under-18] scholars. I can always remember watching a session on the back pitch with Tony Caig [United’s senior keeper coach]. The seniors knew we had this fantastic young goalkeeper in our programme, so it was a case of, ‘Come on then, let’s see how good you are’.

“He jumped in the goals, and lads were smashing shots, and there’s this little 12-year-old lad pulling off save after save. The seniors were getting so frustrated. I remember Caigy looking at me and smiling.

“There was another time when another goalkeeping coach, Dave Timmins, was watching training. He’d had Joe Hart at Shrewsbury, and he pulled me at the end. He said, ‘Deary me – he’s every bit as good, if not better’.”

Word inevitably spread and big clubs, as well as England, watched Carlisle’s age groups. Manchester United appealed the most and a deal was discussed with club and family. “How did he respond to it? It didn’t faze him,” Benson says. “When the biggest football club in the world wants to take you from Carlisle you’d be excused for being a little bit awestruck, but he took it all in his stride.”

Benson says Manchester United, where Henderson progressed from academy to professional, have done a “phenomenal” job with him – and that moving to Old Trafford at 14 built the young man. “I was watching Billy Elliott the other week and, silly as it sounds, I see similarities, in how he’s had to move away from his home area and his family to learn his trade at a place that is catering for world-class performers. I don’t imagine it’s been easy all the time but his confidence is a real asset.

“Also, he’s an entertainer. The first thing he did in the Euros [this summer’s Under-21 Championships] was to do a Cruyff turn in his six-yard box and take it past a centre-forward. I’ve seen it first-hand – in League One, with Blackburn, we played Shrewsbury when Dean was on loan there. He was in with the crowd when they scored and while that’s not very good when you’re on the opposition team, that’s a big part of his nature and his character.”

Benson has remained in contact with Henderson throughout. “He keeps in touch with a lot of his old coaches. I can remember when the floods happened [in 2015] and Carlisle played a game at Ewood Park. Dean came to watch and sat with us. The kind of lad he is, he likes to stay close to his roots.”

On the pitch his progress has been stellar but every young keeper must face lesser days. Mistakes in his first Sheffield United loan last season against Leeds and Aston Villa, as well as for England against Romania, were a test of his mentality but Benson says: “He’s always had a lot of confidence in his ability. On the down days, you have to have something to fall back on. Against Leeds and Villa, does he go under? No – he goes the other way. The result of that was that they [Sheffield United] kept a record number of clean sheets in a row.

“It also goes back to his thirst for improvement. Whenever I catch up with him we always come round to talking about goalkeeping, games he’s seen on telly, constantly asking when, where, why and how he can be the best he can be.”

This yearning, Benson believes, will prevent Henderson falling through the cracks which can claim bright young things in the rarefied Premier League. “It’s that pot of gold of being a top player, rather than money, that drives him. He wants to play for Manchester United, and he’s played for England at practically every age band, which I’m led to believe is a really good indicator.

“In my heart of hearts I believe he can be play at the very top and be a full international. It certainly won’t be for the want of trying. I’m excited for him and I think Cumbria will be extremely proud.”