HomeHenderson apologises for hurt caused by Al-Ettifaq move but refuses to criticise...

Henderson apologises for hurt caused by Al-Ettifaq move but refuses to criticise Saudi league

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Jordan Henderson has apologised for the hurt caused by his move to Al-Ettifaq last year, though he refused to criticise the Saudi Pro League at his Ajax unveiling on Friday.

Henderson left Liverpool after a distinguished 12-year spell at Anfield last July, heading to the Gulf after winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and EFL Cup during his time with the Reds.

However, the England midfielder struggled to settle in Saudi Arabia and only played 17 league games for Steven Gerrard’s inconsistent side before terminating his contract to join Ajax on Thursday.

Read our other football news stories here:
Henderson critics too quick to judge Saudi move, says Klopp
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Steven Gerrard extends contract as Al-Ettifaq boss

Henderson was a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights during his time with Liverpool, and many fan groups saw his move to the Gulf state – where same-sex relationships are outlawed – as something of a betrayal.

He was criticised after giving a controversial interview to The Athletic, in which he suggested his presence in Saudi Arabia would advance the cause of LGBTQ+ rights in the country.

Upon his unveiling in Amsterdam on Friday, Henderson said it was never his intention to hurt members of the LGBTQ+ community and stressed his personal beliefs had never changed.

“I said six months ago that if I offended anybody or people felt as though I let them down then I apologise for that, and I apologise again,” Henderson said.

“As I said before, my beliefs have never changed and never will. I can apologise if people feel let down. I haven’t changed as a person.

“I want to continue to focus on my football and give everything I can for this great football club.”

However, Henderson refused to criticise the Saudi Pro League and said he was made to feel very welcome in the country as he added: “I think a lot of people would like me to sit here and criticise the Saudi League and everything that went along with that.

“But that’s something I am not going to do. I have full respect for the league, for any fans of the club, for the people over there who really made me feel welcome.

“Unfortunately, sometimes these things just don’t work out, in football and in life in general. I made a decision. As soon as I knew this opportunity was there, the decision was this was the best move.

“If anyone was offended or feels I have upset them, that’s on me. I apologise for that and it was never my intention.”

Pushed on whether he regretted the move to Al-Ettifaq, Henderson was non-committal, saying: “In life, if you want to call them regrets or mistakes you can call them that.

“At the same time, they are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them. I learned a lot of things in Saudi.

“There were a lot of different experiences. I haven’t got a bad word to say about anybody over there in the league, in the club. They tried to make me and my family feel as comfortable as possible.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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