Search icon


05th Sep 2023

Jordan Henderson believes playing in Saudi Arabia is a positive thing

Callum Boyle

Jordan Henderson

Henderson also said that his decision to move was not motivated by money

Jordan Henderson has opened up on his decision to move to Saudi Arabia this summer for the first time.

Henderson shocked many when he chose to leave Liverpool and reunited with former teammate Steven Gerrard at Al Ettifaq.

Despite following in the footsteps of many other high profile names, Henderson’s move was one of the most surprising given his close work with LGBTQ+ groups, with some saying he prioritised money over morals.

But now, for the first time, the England international has opened up on his decision to move to the Middle East and he believes that he can make a positive impact in the country while also respecting the traditions of his new home.

Speaking to The Athletic, he said: “People will see this club come with loads of money and he’s just gone, ‘Yeah, I’m going.’ When in reality that just wasn’t the case at all. People can believe me or not, but in my life and my career, money has never been a motivation. Ever.

“Don’t get me wrong, when you move, the business deal has to be tight. You have to have financials, you have to feel wanted, you have to feel valued. And money is a part of that. But that wasn’t the sole reason. And these possibilities came up before money was even mentioned.

“Everything I spoke to Stevie about was football and the project. And he actually said he didn’t want to get involved in any of the money stuff. It was all about what we could do together to achieve something special and build a club and build the league.”

Jordan Henderson

He added: “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. It was just difficult to make that decision. I’d been at a club for so long, a club that I love and have a lot of respect for the fans, the owners, the manager, my team-mates — to leave my team-mates was a big thing. But in the end, I felt as though it was the right thing for them as well.

“I think there was always going to be criticism regardless of what I did, whether I stayed, whether I went. So basically I had to make the decision on what was best for me and my family. So the football is the football side. So do I go somewhere to try something new, to grow the game that I love in another country, and grow the league into one of the best in the world? That excites me because I want to grow the sport all over the world. And that got me going, really.

“And obviously the LGBTQ+ community. I can understand the frustration. I can understand the anger. I get it. All I can say around that is that I’m sorry that they feel like that. My intention was never, ever to hurt anyone. My intention has always been to help causes and communities where I felt like they have asked for my help.

“I think people know what my views and values were before I left and still do now. And I think having someone with those views and values in Saudi Arabia is only a positive thing.”

“I’m going to a different country where the laws of the country might be different.

“Now, I see that as a positive thing. I see that because, from their (Saudi) side, they knew that before signing it. So they knew what my beliefs were. They knew what causes and campaigns I’ve done in the past and not once was it brought up. Not once have they said, “You can do this, you can’t do this.” And I think it can only be a positive thing to try to open up like around Qatar.”

Related links: