Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson's #PlayersTogether initiative vital gesture for soccer - Mohamed Sissoko

Jordan Henderson's decision to set an example and urge footballers to offer their support to those battling coronavirus is a vital gesture for the sport, Mohamed Sissoko has told ESPN.

The former Liverpool midfielder has also urged Reds fans to channel their energies towards saving lives rather than worrying about the title race.

While Premier League players were facing increasing criticism for not playing their part in contributing support to the fight against COVID-19 earlier this month, Henderson was contacting his fellow club captains to organise a collective fund -- named the #PlayersTogether initiative -- to raise fiscal support for the National Health Service.

Henderson's proposal, which involves diverting players' wages to NHS frontline staff, has received broad approval, and the 29-year-old has been hailed as a "fantastic man", a "role model" and a "very selfless person" by Steven Gerrard.

"It's so important, it shows that footballers actually have a heart, contrary to what many people think," Sissoko told ESPN. "[People] think that footballers are selfish, and that they think only about themselves. However, [Henderson's initiative] shows that the captain, as a person, can lead the way.

"It's a good thing for football and for the future of football."

The likes of Cesar Azpilicueta, Conor Coady and England's women players have all actively participated to #PlayersTogether while praising Henderson's initiative, and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock -- who was initially critical of the Premier League players' response -- has also lauded the "big-hearted decision".

While talk of Liverpool's title challenge hangs heavy and unresolved -- with a decision about the future of the season yet to be taken -- Sissoko has urged the club's fans to channel their energies to combating the virus until a measure of normalcy has returned.

"The important thing, for now, is that football must be put to one side for the time being and we must think about the health of other people," Sissoko, who made 42 Premier League appearances for Liverpool in three seasons between 2005 and 2008, told ESPN.

"Afterwards, when the problems are resolved, we can talk about football.

"But for now, we must not talk about what we've lost or what we can win; there are lives at stake.

"We must really save those lives, do everything so that the virus is banished, and then everyone can pick up their own activities and do what they want to do."

At the time of the Premier League's suspension due to the increasing encroachment of the coronavirus on British life, Liverpool were 25 points clear at the top of the table -- an English top-flight record -- having played one game more than nearest challengers Manchester City.