England Midfielder Jordan Henderson said he was “hurt badly” after coming under fire for joining Al-Ettifaq.
Henderson, who He moved to the Saudi club from Liverpool In July, he was a vocal ally of the LGBTQ+ community.
His move was criticized by some LGBTQ+ activists, as same-sex sexual activity is illegal in the country Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“It was never my intention to harm anyone. My intention was always to help causes and communities.” Henderson told The Athletic.
“I care about the different causes I’m involved in, the different communities… I really do. And for people to criticize me and say I really turned my back on them, it really hurts me.
“All I can say is I apologize, I’m sorry I made them feel that way. But I haven’t changed as a person.”
The 33-year-old wrote a long piece for Liverpool’s fixtures program in November 2021, expressing his support for Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign.
With his move to Saudi Arabia, Henderson reunited with his former Liverpool teammate Stephen Gerrard, who was also Appointed director of the agreement in July.
“I did my best to help,” Henderson said [the LGBTQ+ community]. I wore laces. I wore the armband. I’ve talked to people in this community to try and use my profile to help them. That’s all I tried to do.
“When I hear things like, ‘You turned your back on us,’ it hurts. I really care. I have family and friends in the LGBTQ+ community.”
Henderson said he did not rule out wearing rainbow laces in Saudi Arabia, insisting the gesture was in line with his values, but he did not want to be disrespectful.
When his move to Al-Ettifaq was announced, the club released a welcome video on social media featuring a montage of Henderson’s career, but his rainbow armband appears to have been grayed out.
“I didn’t know anything about it until it was revealed,” Henderson said. “It is difficult for me to know and understand everything because it is part of the religion.
“So, if you wear a rainbow armband, if it violates their religion, that’s not right either. Everyone should respect religion and culture.”
Speaking of what convinced him to turn to Saudi Arabia, Henderson said he was drawn to the prospect of trying to grow the game he loves in another country, and said nothing would change by criticizing another country from afar with “our heads in the sand”. .
Henderson added, “I think people knew my views and values before I left and they still know them now. And I think having someone with those views and values in Saudi Arabia is only positive.”
“I didn’t feel wanted.”
Henderson joined Liverpool from boyhood club Sunderland in 2011, made 492 appearances, became captain and won seven major trophies, including the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.
His position at the club has come under the spotlight after he failed to secure a regular starting role under Jurgen Klopp in the 2022-23 season.
arrivals Dominic Zuboszlay And Alexis McAllister Early in the summer transfer window, reports indicated that the captain’s playing time would remain limited this season, and he no longer felt secure in his position at the club.
Henderson said: “If it’s one of those people [at Liverpool] He told me, “Now we want you to stay,” so we’re not going to have this conversation.
Now, it doesn’t mean that they forced me to leave the club or that they were saying they wanted me out, but at no point did I feel wanted to stay by the club or anyone else.
“Money is not the motive”
Henderson joined some of the biggest names in football by moving to Saudi Arabia.
Al-Ittihad boasts a star-studded team with the former real madrid Forward Karim Benzema and France World Cup winner N’Golo Kante is among their ranks, while they are still hoping to snap up the Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
while, Brazil Former international Neymar Wolves Midfielder Ruben Neves Former Chelsea defender Kalidou Coulibaly He is heading towards Al-Hilal, despite their failure to secure the services of the Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe After making a world record bid of £259m.
Reports suggested that Henderson was being paid £700,000 a week – four times what he was earning at Liverpool – but he denied the allegations.
“People can believe me or not, but in my life and career, money has never been a motivator. Ever,” he said.