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Troy Deeney: I was offered mega money to play in Saudi Arabia… but they wouldn’t let me live with my partner and kids

JORDAN HENDERSON is taking some serious stick after the end of his brief stint in Saudi Arabia.

But I would like to know how many critics would dismiss out of hand the chance to earn a net salary of £20million.

Jordan Henderson has left Saudi Arabia just six months after arriving

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Jordan Henderson has left Saudi Arabia just six months after arrivingCredit: Getty
Troy Deeney is due to marry partner Alisha Hosannah this summer but would not have been able to live with her in Saudi Arabia

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Troy Deeney is due to marry partner Alisha Hosannah this summer but would not have been able to live with her in Saudi ArabiaCredit: Getty

I was offered an eye-watering sum last summer to play in the Saudi Pro League — and thought long and hard about it.

At the age of 35, knowing my playing days were numbered, I received a pay offer which — although not on Hendo’s scale — would have been comfortably the most money I’d ever earned.

It far exceeded anything I took home captaining Watford in the Premier League.

It was sorely tempting but I had my own reasons for turning down the move.

I am not married to my partner — we are due to tie the knot this summer — and under Saudi law, I wouldn’t have been allowed to live in the same house as her and our kids.

There are no exceptions for professional footballers and, if you agree to go and work in a country, you have to respect their culture and laws.

My missus and kids would have probably lived in Dubai, while I lived in Saudi.

I would not have coped well mentally with being away from them for the vast majority of the time — being left to my own devices isn’t good for me.

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Hendo is married, so wouldn’t have had that dilemma, and a friend and former team-mate in Steven Gerrard was managing his club, Al-Ettifaq.

Knowing he was no longer fully wanted at Liverpool, it seems Hendo made a rash knee-jerk decision and has now realised even a vast amount of money doesn’t ­necessarily make you happy.

Henderson might not now earn a penny from his brief time in Saudi after ripping up his contract to join Ajax on a free.

Like every other player who was offered a deal by the Saudis, he will have been well aware of the tax implications.

I am not married to my partner — we are due to tie the knot this summer — and under Saudi law, I wouldn’t have been allowed to live in the same house as her and our kids.

Troy Deeney

That if you did not stay for two years, you’d be absolutely clobbered by the taxman when returning home.

Had I struggled with the lifestyle as Henderson has done, I would have had to stick it out.

Apparently a few other players who left the Premier League for Saudi also want to leave — and anyone offered huge amounts to move next summer will think longer and harder about making a similar move.

Some will still go — it takes a brave man to turn down that sort of money, especially when you are nearing the end of your career.

He swapped Liverpool for Al-Ettifaq in the summer

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He swapped Liverpool for Al-Ettifaq in the summerCredit: Reuters

Don’t fall into the trap of believing every Premier League player is seriously minted and financially set up for life.

Many have had serious gambling problems, or made bad financial investments or had expensive divorces.

Players might also be tempted to play against Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Neymar — I know I liked the sound of that challenge — and to help grow an emerging league.

Until you go and live in another country, with a very different way of life, it’s impossible to know whether you can handle it.

I don’t know which club in the Saudi top flight I would have been playing for.

I was made an offer by Michael Emenalo — the former Chelsea executive who is now sporting director of the Saudi Pro League — and if I had agreed, I would then have been allocated a club.

I know some of the crowds in Saudi are very low but that wasn’t a consideration for me.

For Henderson, it might have been. He could not have got anything like the same buzz playing for Al-Ettifaq, where the average gate is 8,000, as in front of a full house at Anfield.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing every Premier League player is seriously minted and financially set up for life.

Troy Deeney

He is now joining Ajax — a massive club suffering a difficult season — and knows that he still has plenty to give.

It will also help his chances of playing for England at the Euros next summer.

If I am honest, I didn’t seriously consider human-rights issues when I thought about moving to Saudi.

But for Henderson, this must have been a real issue because he had been such an outspoken advocate of LGBTQ rights and was moving to a country where homosexuality is illegal.

I agree with Hendo’s views but because I didn’t have that same background in campaigning, I wouldn’t have received nearly as much stick.

Hendo knew he’d be nailed to a cross for making his move to Saudi and I’m sure he accepts some of the criticism.

I know him well from being a fellow Premier League captain — especially during the pandemic. He is a really good man.

Just because he has made one bad decision in life doesn’t mean everything he said or did previously was a lie.

Henderson joined Dutch side Ajax this week

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Henderson joined Dutch side Ajax this weekCredit: EPA

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