After Stint in Saudi Arabia, Jordan Henderson Makes Return to European Soccer with Ajax

After Stint in Saudi Arabia, Jordan Henderson Makes Return to European Soccer with Ajax

In a noteworthy move, soccer player Jordan Henderson has declared his return to European football by joining Ajax, marking his departure from the Saudi Pro League (SPL) club Al-Ettifaq after six months, a decision that stirred controversy.

After Stint in Saudi Arabia, Jordan Henderson Makes Return to European Soccer with Ajax
After Stint in Saudi Arabia, Jordan Henderson Makes Return to European Soccer with Ajax

On Thursday, the English international confirmed his exit from Al-Ettifaq, stating, “It wasn’t an easy decision but one that I feel is best for me and my family.” Ajax, currently positioned fifth in the Dutch Eredivisie, also officially announced the transfer on the same day, sharing images and videos of Henderson’s arrival on the club’s social media platforms.

Expressing his commitment to maintaining high performance on the pitch, the 33-year-old remarked in a video on X (formerly Twitter), “I still want to perform at a high level on the pitch, and that’s the most important thing. I’ve got to come and perform and try and help the team become successful.”

Al-Ettifaq described the termination of Henderson’s contract as “amicable” in a statement, with club president Samer Al Misehal emphasizing the swift decision for the overall benefit of both the club and Jordan.

According to ESPN, Henderson’s initial contract with Al-Ettifaq was for three years.

Saad Allazeez, the interim CEO of the SPL, expressed, “Jordan is a good guy, and it’s a shame that things didn’t work out for him, but he’d be the first to admit that full support was given to him and respect shown.”

Henderson’s move to Al-Ettifaq from Liverpool had faced scrutiny, especially considering his prior support for LGBTQ rights. Publicly endorsing the Rainbow Laces campaign, he has advocated for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with those facing exclusion. However, his relocation to Saudi Arabia, where same-sex activity is considered an offense, drew criticism from LGBTQ advocacy groups and the broader soccer community.

LGBTQ Liverpool fan group Kop Outs expressed being “appalled and concerned,” while England supporters’ group 3LionsPride conveyed disappointment.

In an interview with The Athletic last year, Henderson acknowledged the frustration from the LGBTQ community but believed his move to Saudi Arabia was “a positive thing.” He expressed regret if anyone felt hurt, emphasizing that hurting anyone was never his intention.

Having spent 12 seasons with Liverpool and securing victories in the Champions League and Premier League, Henderson made the move to Al-Ettifaq last year, joining notable players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Neymar in Saudi Arabia. Under the management of Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard, Henderson made 17 league appearances during his six months with Al-Ettifaq. On Thursday, the club announced the extension of Gerrard’s contract until 2027.

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