Former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has shed light on the reasons behind his departure from the club to join Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq.
Henderson’s move, worth £12 million ($15.4 million) plus add-ons, stirred significant controversy and criticism due to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. However, Henderson has clarified that his decision was not solely financially motivated and believes it could bring about positive change.
In an interview with The Athletic, Henderson addressed the backlash, saying, “People can believe me or not, but in my life and my career, money has never been a motivation. Ever.” He emphasized the importance of feeling valued and wanted in a transfer but insisted that money wasn’t the primary factor.
Henderson, known for his advocacy of LGBTQ+ rights, expressed optimism about his move’s potential impact on the LGBTQ+ community, stating, “I think having someone with those views and values in Saudi Arabia is only a positive thing.”
The midfielder also drew parallels with Qatar’s situation, suggesting that hosting the World Cup there prompted positive changes in the country’s rules and regulations. He believes that being in Saudi Arabia could similarly contribute to opening up discussions about important issues.
Henderson’s departure from Liverpool, where he spent 12 years, was influenced by several factors. He mentioned that Jurgen Klopp had been honest with him about a reduced role at the club, which played a part in his decision. Henderson clarified that he didn’t feel wanted to stay, although the club didn’t force him out.
Looking ahead, Al-Ettifaq, led by manager Steven Gerrard, will soon be in action in the Saudi Pro League, where they will face Abha. Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia has certainly ignited discussions, not only about his career but also about the potential impact of footballers on social and human rights issues in countries hosting major football events.
As the debate continues, Henderson’s decision to join Al-Ettifaq remains a significant talking point in the footballing world, highlighting the complexities and ethical considerations that can arise in modern football transfers.