Jordan Henderson has defended his move to Saudi Arabia in the former Liverpool captain’s first in-depth interview since his transfer to Al Ettifaq.
The midfielder spoke about a wide range of topics, including the backlash from LGBT groups, plus the reported huge sums of money he was offered to switch to the Middle East.
Henderson denied the claims he is earning £700,00-a-week at Al Ettifaq – in fact, he insists money was ‘never mentioned’ during his discussions with manager Steven Gerrard about the move.
The England star reveals he felt a ‘shift’ at Liverpool over the summer after ‘honest’ conversations with Jurgen Klopp over his role and felt it was time to move on to keep playing regular football.
He also said the widespread criticism he has received, including from people and causes he supports, ‘hurt’ him and insisted he still supports the very same causes and holds them close to his heart.
And it’s for that reason why he believes his move to Saudi can only be a ‘positive thing’.
Speaking to The Athletic, Henderson said: “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.
“In the end, around Qatar, having a World Cup there shined a light on certain issues where I think in the end, I might be wrong, but they changed some rules and regulations to be able to host the World Cup and I think that’s positive.
“That’s the way you try to create positive change. And I’m not saying that I can do that. I’m one person.
“I’m not a politician. I never have been and never wanted to be. I have never tried to change laws or rules in England, never mind in a different country where I’m not from. So I’m not saying that I’m going there to do that.
“But what I’m saying is people know what my values are and the people who know me know what my values are. And my values don’t change because I’m going to a different country where the laws of the country might be different.”
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