Jordan Henderson’s Saudi Arabian dream has turned sour after his Al-Ettifaq contract was terminated just six months and 19 games in so he can return to European football with Ajax
The England midfielder excitedly described last summer’s £12million move from Liverpool to Al-Ettifaq, to link up with Anfield icon Steven Gerrard, as a glorious opportunity to help ‘grow the Pro League into one of the best in the world’.
Six months down the line – at literally the first opportunity and having exhausted a lot of reputational capital – Henderson is dashing back from his £350,000-a-week football odyssey to something more familiar.
The 33-year-old has terminated his three-year Al-Ettifaq contract – at great personal expense as he’ll have to pay millions in tax – and is set to return to Europe with Ajax.
According to the Daily Mail, his family were living in more liberal Bahrain as opposed to the city of Dammam, where Al-Ettifaq play.
The commute to training and home matches, over the King Fahd Causeway, took 55 minutes.
Given the same report’s account of a footballer’s partner in western dress, with arms and legs on display, being hissed at by local women as she walked around a Saudi shopping mall, the choice to live in the less conservative culture was perhaps understandable.
As early as November, the first rumours Henderson and his family were finding it difficult to settle came to the surface.