Jordan Henderson offered an apology to the LGBT+ community at his unveiling as an Ajax player on Friday.
The 33-year-old midfielder was presented to the press for his new club in Amsterdam, following his hasty exit from Al Ettifaq.
Henderson, who departed Liverpool last summer in a £12m move, spent just half a season in the Saudi Pro League, before having his contract terminated so he could return to Europe.
The midfielder's move to the Middle East caused controversy, with Henderson previously a prominent advocate of LGBT+ inclusion from within men's football.
His decision to play in a country where homosexuality remains illegal led to accusations that he had sold out, while a now infamous interview with the Athletic shortly after his transfer only brought more negative attention.
Starting the day with Hendo vibes 🪶 pic.twitter.com/1J4zAvNF9G
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) January 19, 2024
Speaking at his press conference, Henderson addressed the elephant in the room – offering an apology for his 'mistake' in moving to Saudi Arabia.
“If any people from that community feel let down or hurt I apologise,” said Henderson. “If anyone was offended or feel as though I upset them, that’s on me, that was my decision and I apologise for that. It was never my intention.
“I just want to look forward now and concentrate on being the best player I can for Ajax. My beliefs have never changed and never will. Again I can only apologise if people feel let down.”
“If you want to call it a mistake, you can.”
One why he chose to sign for Ajax, Henderson said: “(Ajax) is one of the biggest clubs in the world, the biggest club in Holland and I felt as though it’s a great opportunity for me personally to come to a huge club, to try and help this club go forward and be as successful as possible.”
Henderson also dismissed suggestions his move to the Netherlands has been motivated by tax benefits.
“Don’t believe what you read in the press,” he added. “It had nothing to do with anything but football. I felt it was the perfect opportunity to come to such a huge club and showcase what I’ve tried to do my whole life - to dedicate myself to football.
“The welcome here has been incredible and I’m overwhelmed to be given the opportunity at a great football club and to repay the faith shown in me.
“Over the next two-and-a-half years I will give everything to get the club back on track and to be as successful as possible.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp wished his former captain well at his next club.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday's clash at Bournemouth, Klopp said: “I didn’t speak to him [since he left], but I’m happy for him as it looks like he is happy and that is the most important thing to me.
“From time to time I forget I actually don’t read these kinds of stories – but when it’s not about us I read a bit. People are really critical of Hendo about the move, first there and now coming back. I don’t know how we dare, always judging these kind of things. We have one life and we have to make decisions and sometimes our decisions are perfect in the first case and sometimes it is different after you make them.”