Jordan Henderson issues apology and addresses Saudi nightmare at Ajax | Football | Sport

England midfielder Jordan Henderson has apologised to those who were offended as a result of his controversial summer transfer to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq. However, during his unveiling with Eredivisie giants Ajax on Friday, Henderson insisted that he did not regret his short-lived stint in the Middle East.

During his 12 years at Anfield, the former Liverpool captain was a strong ally to the LGBTQ+ community and was widely praised for his advocacy. However, by moving to a country that criminalises same-sex relationships, his departure caused a stir among his supporters.

At the time of his summer move, England LGBTQ group 3LIONSPRIDE issued a statement claiming that they would no longer cheer his name or use a banner with Henderson’s face.

Now that he has left Al-Ettifaq after terminating his contract, Henderson defended the transfer as a “football decision” but did offer an apology: “If I offended anybody or people felt I let them down, I apologise for that… but my beliefs have never changed and never will. I can only apologise if people feel let down. I said six months ago that if I offended anyone or let them down, I apologise.”

When asked if he had any regrets about the move, which could leave Henderson short-changed amid the prospect of not being paid a penny of his £350,000-a-week Saudi Arabia wage, the 33-year-old was adamant that he did not.

“Looking back at the time, it was a big decision and one I felt was right for me,” he added. “Things change quickly in football and I’m happy to make this decision (to come to Ajax) and I felt this opportunity too big to turn down for me.

“In life, if you wanna call them regrets or mistakes you can but they’re only mistakes if you don’t learn from them and I learnt a lot of things about Saudi. I haven’t got a bad word to say about anyone. I have friends over there I’ll speak to forever and there were still positives to come out of it. In the end it didn’t turn out way we both wanted to, but it ended on great terms.”

Henderson grew discontent with life in Saudi Arabia as he reportedly found it difficult to acclimatise to the weather, coupled with Al-Ettifaq’s poor form under Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard.

But he still has nothing but positive words for his time in the Middle East. “I think a lot of people would like me to criticise the Saudi League, that’s not something I’m going to do,” Henderson concluded. “I have a lot of respect for them and those that made me feel welcome. If anyone is offended, I apologise, that was never my intention.”

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