Jordan Henderson has admitted that he wouldn’t have felt ‘right’ playing against Liverpool after he left Anfield during the summer.
The midfielder had been a Reds player for 12 years before his departure for Al Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia, where he’s now playing under Steven Gerrard, his predecessor as LFC captain.
The 33-year-old has given a revealing interview to The Athletic in which he explained that he decided to move on from Merseyside because he felt unwanted by senior figures at the club.
When asked if he gave consideration to other potential destinations aside from the team for whom he now plays, Henderson replied: “I think a lot of clubs would have known there was a possibility of me leaving because it was speculated over the summer. I’d love to sit here and say that every club under the sun was wanting me. But the reality was that they weren’t.
“Liverpool is where my kids were born; I’ve achieved so much there. I love the club, I love the fans and the thought of playing against them would have been a different challenge in a different way. And it wasn’t something that I felt was right for me.”
Henderson’s decision to move to Saudi Arabia has seen him become a villain in the eyes of many, with the previously outspoken ambassador for LGBTQ+ rights eliciting widespread criticism for relocating to a country where being gay is a criminal offence.
It’s understandable that, after spending almost all his career at Liverpool, he’d have found it tough to play against them (he did so four times for Sunderland before joining the Reds in 2011), but the irony is that his reputation wouldn’t have soured so badly had he gone to another Premier League club.
If he copied former teammates James Milner and Adam Lallana in moving to Brighton, for instance, the 33-year-old would’ve been assured of a warm welcome back to Anfield even in away colours, with fans sure to appreciate the tremendous service he gave to the Reds.
Sadly, by moving to the Middle East, Henderson has tarnished his legacy in the eyes of many who previously idolised him.
It’s a massive shame that a man who played 492 times for Liverpool (Transfermarkt) and captained them throughout one of the most exciting periods in the club’s history, winning virtually every major trophy going, now looks set to be remembered for a rather less cerebral act.
Alas, it’s Henderson’s career and his choice what to do with it, and he’d have been acutely aware of the consequences of joining Al Ettifaq before signing for them.