Jordan Henderson doubles down on Saudi move after England booing

Jordan Henderson has insisted he has no regrets about moving to Al Ettifaq this summer, in spite of criticism.

The 33-year-old famously ended his tenure as Liverpool captain to sign for the Steven Gerrard-managed side in the Saudi Pro League in a £12m deal this summer.

While many high-profile players have been drawn to Saudi Arabia this year as part of an aggressive recruitment campaign to boost the league's profile, Henderson faced a backlash following his move.

The midfielder had been a prominent advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in men's football and many felt let down by his decision to play in a country where homosexuality remains illegal.

Liverpool and England fan groups were among those to speak out against Henderson's move, while an in-depth interview with the Athletic discussing his motives for leaving Liverpool and signing for Al Ettifaq only served to bring more criticism.

READ MORE: Jill Scott aims dig at Jordan Henderson over Saudi transfer 

Henderson was even booed by England fans during the 1-0 win friendly win over Australia – his first home appearance for the Three Lions since the transfer.

Speaking immediately after that game, the midfielder, who spent 12 years at Liverpool, claimed not to understand why he received such a reception, while he was backed by manager Gareth Southgate and former teammate Harvey Elliott.

Discussing the booing ahead of England 3-1 win over Italy (during which Henderson enjoyed a friendlier atmosphere), Henderson admitted it 'hurt' to have his own fans turn on him.

He told Channel 4: "Of course it hurts because every time you put on that shirt it’s a proud moment and I am playing for my team-mates, for my country and the fans really. So, of course it hurts but at the end of the day, that’s part and parcel. I have had enough criticism over my career to be able to deal with that. I am not the first player to be booed and I probably won’t be the last.

"If that’s what people want to think and have the perception of that, then that’s fine."

Asked whether he has had any second thoughts about his controversial move to Al Ettifaq, Henderson replied: "No regrets.

"I look at it like I said before, I think having someone like myself with the values that I have, in Saudi Arabia is only a good thing. Before I went there, people knew the groups that I supported and helped in the past, and not once has it ever been mentioned when I have been going over there that I can’t do this or I can’t say that. It’s never been an issue at all. They know what my values are and they have accepted that and all they ask in return is for me to respect their values, religion and culture as well which I have done.

READ MORE: Gareth Southgate backs Jordan Henderson after England booing

"My values have not changed as a person just because I have gone to a different country to play football."

A second-half substitute for the win over Italy's at Wembley on Tuesday evening, Henderson also discussed his chances of making the England squad for Euro 2024.

He added: "It’s a big tournament [Euro 2024] and every player wants to be there so I will be doing everything I can to make sure I am one of those players in the squad to try and help the team."

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