Jordan Henderson has admitted his ‘hurt’ at not having the opportunity to ‘say goodbye properly’ to Liverpool supporters prior to his move to Saudi Arabia over the summer.
The midfielder ended his 12-year association with the Reds to join Al Ettifaq in a transfer which saw him condemned in many quarters for moving to a country with oppressive laws regarding homosexuality.
The 33-year-old has now given a revealing interview to The Athletic in which he opened up on his reasons for departing Merseyside and choosing to team up with Steven Gerrard’s team in Dammam.
When asked by Adam Crafton if he’d have any reservations over the reaction he’d receive if he were to go back to Anfield, Henderson replied: “To be honest, Adam, the negative reaction, I think a lot of it is on social media and in the media, which I don’t get involved with.
“When I’ve seen people around, they have all wished me all the very best. Even Liverpool fans. I dedicated my life for 12 years to the club. I gave them everything. And I would do it all again if I could go back. I think they know that, they appreciate that.
“I’d have no concerns if I had the opportunity or if they welcomed me back to say goodbye. Because that does hurt me a little bit, that I didn’t get to say goodbye properly to the fans.”
Henderson was then asked if there were any plans afoot for a testimonial at Anfield, to which he replied: “No. But if I had the opportunity to do something — whether that would be a testimonial or just to go back to say ‘bye’ — I think that would be good and nice for me to do, because that does hurt.”
While Henderson is clearly rueful over not getting the chance to leave Liverpool to a rapturous reception in the same manner as Bobby Firmino, for example, the reality is that the midfielder hurt a lot of people who’d previously looked up to him as a role model.
The 33-year-old was a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and would’ve been relied upon by members of that community to use his public profile to speak out on their behalf, but he’s irreparably lost the trust of many former supporters of his by moving to Saudi Arabia.
Considering everything he did for the Reds during his 12 years at Anfield – captaining the team to a plethora of major honours, playing almost 500 games for the club and organising a fund among Premier League peers in support of frontline workers during the COVID pandemic in 2020 – such feats would typically be deserving of a testimonial.
The time may come when Liverpool decide to honour Henderson in that manner, but the rawness of his transfer to the Middle East – and the outcry it understandably elicited – makes it hard to imagine an official farewell would occur any time soon.
He might be granted a testimonial further down the line – perhaps when he calls time on his playing career – but for now, many Reds supporters would probably be very hesitant for one to be given to him, despite his on-pitch contributions.