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Star Player Laments Decision to Join Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A notable player openly confessed that joining the football revolution initiated by Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia was a misjudgment.

The football world was taken aback when Cristiano Ronaldo declared his move to Al Nassr following the World Cup in Qatar. Opting for what seemed a bold venture, the iconic Portuguese aimed to spotlight the Saudi Pro League.

Triggered by Ronaldo’s move, several high-profile players also made their way to Saudi Arabia, including Neymar, Karim Benzema, Sadio Mane, Marcelo Brozovic, and Yannick Carrasco.

Yet, as time went on, some of these stars began to sense that life in Saudi Arabia, despite lucrative contracts, wasn’t as they had anticipated. Jordan Henderson, who had switched from Liverpool and the Premier League to join Al Ettifaq, was among those who felt this way.

Notably, Henderson, an outspoken supporter of the LGBT community, faced backlash due to Saudi Arabia’s stance against LGBT rights.

After spending just half a year in Saudi Arabia, Henderson looked for a way out in early 2024, willing to incur a significant financial penalty to break his contract with Al Ettifaq.

He eventually secured a two-year agreement with Ajax, moving to the Eredivisie. Reflecting on his decision in an interview with Het Parool, the midfielder acknowledged that leaving the Premier League was a grave error.

“The Saudi league is developing but it doesn’t suit me. I made a mistake going there. I am happy here at the Ajax project. I now realize that football runs through my blood. During those five months in Saudi Arabia, I learned a lot about myself. What are my motivations? Why do I play football?” he said.

“I’ve returned to live the European nights like against Aston Villa. I want to create a big surprise with my teammates. When people boo me, it gives me extra motivation. Proving the critics wrong is a consistent thread in my career that doesn’t wear out over the years. It’s my way of expressing emotions. A passion that belongs to me.”

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