Steven Gerrard ‘disappointed’ as he reveals his reaction to Jordan Henderson’s ‘damaging’ Saudi exit

Lewis Oldham
Liverpool Henderson
Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard.

Al Ettifaq manager Steven Gerrard has offered his reaction to Jordan Henderson’s short spell in the Saudi Pro League after leaving Liverpool.

Henderson made the controversial decision to leave Liverpool last summer as he reunited with Gerrard with Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq.

“I was disappointed…”

The 33-year-old had previously been a major advocate for the LGBTQ+ community so he was heavily criticised for making the move to the Middle East.

This move did not work out as Henderson pursued a speedy exit during this year’s winter transfer window after struggling to settle in Saudi Arabia.

Henderson has subsequently struggled with Dutch giants Ajax and was left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2024.

Gerrard has admitted that Henderson’s decision to leave Al-Ettifaq “disappointed” him.

“I respected his [Henderson’s] decision because I love him as a guy, I love him as a player and I have nothing but ultimate respect for him,” Gerrard said in an interview with The Telegraph.

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“I was disappointed. Any manager who loses his captain during the season is not ideal and I told Jordan that. But if someone is not settled. If someone has some family things that are affecting him.

“If someone has got different outside goals or opportunities, like England for example, then I have to respect that and understand it. And I do. But was I disappointed? Of course I was.”

When asked when if he attempted to convince Henderson to stay in Saudi Arabia, Gerrard added: “I did but I didn’t overdo that because it had to be Jordan’s decision.

“He’s a big boy and I didn’t want to be someone – for example, if I had convinced him to stay and he felt further down [the line] that it was the wrong decision then I didn’t want to be that person who was told ‘why did you convince me to stay?’.

“It had to be Jordan’s decision. He needed his own time. He needed to go through his own processes. The advice I gave to Jordan was ‘do what’s right for your family’.”

Saudi Pro League chief Michael Emenalo meanwhile has argued that Henderson’s Saudi exit had “damaged” him and not the league.

“It wasn’t damaging at all for the league. It was damaging on a personal level because this is someone that we all admired and we tried our very best to help him adapt and to stay,” Emenalo said.

“But sometimes these things are just beyond your own needs and just beyond professional. Jordan did a lot of good work here, did a lot of good work for Ettifaq and had inputs in ideas that have transformed that club and had an opportunity to know the country and the culture.

“If you ask him privately now, he will tell you that he had no issues. But sometimes there is a confluence of things happening that makes individuals make a decision that I think is best for them.”

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