“Moving to Saudi Arabia was a mistake” – Jordan Henderson

Ajax midfielder Jordan Henderson has confessed that moving to Saudi Arabia last summer was “a mistake”.

After falling down the pecking order at Liverpool, Henderson opted to take his talents to Saudi Arabia to link up with Reds legend Steven Gerrard, attracting immense criticism for a decision to move to a country which outlaws homosexuality.

Henderson publicly defended his move and voiced his commitment to helping Saudi Arabia grow both on the pitch and in day-to-day life, only to terminate his contract in January and return to Europe with Ajax.

In an interview with Het Parool, Henderson confessed the move to Saudi Arabia was not right for him.

“I made a mistake, but I am happy with the Ajax project,” he stressed.

“Everyone has an opinion, some more intense than others. That’s fine and part of it. I’m used to something. But people don’t know the whole story. Only I know that.

“During those five months in Saudi Arabia I learned a lot about myself. What are my motivations? Why do I actually play football? Football is something that is in my blood, I now know. And the competition in Saudi Arabia is developing and will become bigger, but it does not suit me at the moment.

“I live for European nights like against Aston Villa. I want to create a big surprise with my teammates.”

Henderson returns to England on Thursday to face Villa in the second leg of the Europa Conference League last 16, and having been booed by fans when he turned out for the England national team earlier this season, he is expecting a hostile reception.

“When people whistle at me, it gives me extra motivation,” he stressed. “Proving critics wrong is a common thread in my career that has not worn out over the years. It’s my way of expressing emotions. A passion that belongs to me.”

What we know

  • Henderson left Liverpool last summer to join Al Ettifaq in a hugely controversial move
  • Midfielder terminated his contract in Saudi Arabia in January & joined Ajax
  • 33-year-old returns to England this Thursday to face Aston Villa.

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