Jordan Henderson's bizarre response to being booed for England

Former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson faced a frosty reception as he captained England to a 1-0 win over Australia on Friday.

The 33-year-old, who famously left Liverpool for Saudi Arabia's Al Ettifaq in a £12m deal during the summer, was met with a chorus of boos from sections of the home support at Wembley when his name was announced before the game, while his substitution in the second half only drew louder jeers from the crowd.

Though Henderson had already featured for the Three Lions since his controversial move, the victory over Australia marked his first home appearance as an Al Ettifaq player.

While many high-profile players and coaches have been lured to Saudi Arabia on big-money deals this year, Henderson has been singled out for criticism.

During his time at Anfield, Henderson had been a prominent supporter of LGBTQ+ rights from within men's football and his transfer to a country where homosexuality remains illegal was seen by many as the midfielder selling out on his beliefs.

Last month, the former Liverpool number 14 addressed the backlashed over his perceived hypocrisy in an interview with the Athletic where he insisted money was not the sole motivation for his decision to join Al Ettifaq, whose average attendances last season were around 6,500.

Speaking after the friendly win over Australia, England manager Gareth Southgate backed his captain on the night amid the boos.

“I really don’t understand it,” said Southgate. “He’s a player who I think has 79 caps now for England. His commitment and what he has delivered for England is exceptional."

"I know what’s created it and I know why it has happened, but it defies logic to me that you would give a player who is playing and putting his heart and soul into playing for England… why boo him?"

Meanwhile, Henderson, who was also asked if he understood why he was booed by fans, replied: "Not really. I don't know. Do you?"

When it was suggested that his move to Saudi Arabia was the reason, Henderson responded: "If people want to boo if I'm playing in a different country, that's fine. Everyone is going to have an opinion over playing over in Saudi.

"I've spoken in the past about the reasons for that. Whether people believe us or not is up to them. But when I'm here with England, it doesn't change anything. I give absolutely everything. Of course it's disappointing, but it won't change what I do here. I want to keep playing and help the team become successful.

"I haven't been surprised by that because I can understand the reasons in what they're saying.

"I look at it from a different point of view. But I can understand it and I’ve got to take that on the chin. But it doesn’t change the person that I am. I’m playing football in a different country where I want to try to improve the game on the pitch but also things off the pitch as well.

"I'm not a politician. I'm not going to get into politics. All I've ever done is concentrate on my football and try to help people that have asked for my help. When I'm going out there, I'm just playing football, trying to improve the league, trying to improve my own team and trying to win games. I do the same when I come here.

"It's not nice, your own fans, if they were booing. But people have their own opinions. Whenever I bump into anyone on the street it's always been positive."

To many, Henderson's somewhat confused response only serves to show how he is still grappling with how he justifies the issue to himself.

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