Ex-Liverpool boss Rodgers defends Henderson from ‘morality officers’ after Saudi transfer

Joe Williams
Former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and Jordan Henderson
Brendan Rodgers and Jordan Henderson have a chat on the touchline.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has defended former Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson over his controversial move to Saudi Arabia.

Henderson completed a move to Al-Ettifaq during the summer transfer window for a fee of £12m with the England international reunited with former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard, who is manager of the Saudi Arabian club.

But Henderson has come in for plenty of criticism –  including on these pages – for his decision to move to Saudi Arabia due to his long-time support of LGBT+ issues and the Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign.

Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, while the state stands accused of a host of other abuses including placing harsh restrictions on women’s rights and the right to political protest.

Henderson attracted more criticism on Tuesday for his interview in The Athletic with the former Liverpool midfielder claiming he didn’t go to Saudi Arabia for the money.

But Rodgers, who used to manage Henderson during his time as Liverpool boss, thinks the “morality officers” of the world are being harsh on the new Al-Ettifaq midfielder.

READ MORE: The 11 worst answers in Jordan Henderson’s execrable interview explaining his Saudi Arabia move

“It’s their profession, it’s their life so they have to do what’s best for them,” Rodgers told talkSPORT.

“There’s so many morality officers around the world nowadays that are judging people.

“But Jordan I know extremely well and I know the love he had for Liverpool. He was at the stage of his career where he probably wasn’t going to be the first name on the team sheet anymore. At 32-years of age, he’s won absolutely everything.

“He probably fancied a different challenge and out of respect, it probably didn’t feel right for him being at another Premier League club. So to go abroad and take on a new challenge clearly suited him.”

Rodgers did acknowledge that the money on offer will sway a lot of players into moving to Saudi Arabia, particularly players at the end of their contracts.

“It’s definitely something that makes players wobble because of the money that’s talked about and what it can do for players and the legacy it can create for their families for years down the line,” the Celtic boss added.

“What makes [Saudi Arabia] dangerous is not only the money, they have a plan. The plan is attracting top players and looking to get top managers out there.”