Sports

Money may be greener, but not the grass

He’s just realised that playing in near-empty stadiums with atmosphere akin to a Monday night in a country and western bar on the Moon, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

325541 jordan20henderson | FDI Việt Nam
Al-Ettifaq’s Jordan Henderson is looking for a way out. AFP Photo

Paul Kennedy

I’ve always defended Jordan Henderson to the hilt. When he was captain of Liverpool, their most successful for decades I might add, I felt he was given a rough ride, particularly from non-Liverpool supporters.

My point is proven whenever Henderson wears the white of England. Fans are often heard booing him, which again, is something I just don’t understand.

Henderson made the decision to leave Liverpool last season when he realised he was more likely to be a bit-part player at Anfield. He was never going to be guaranteed a first-team place, and at 33, it’s probably fair to say his best years are behind him.  

I also defended him when he decided to move to Saudi Pro League club Al-Ettifaq, playing for his former Liverpool teammate, Steven Gerrard.

This week however, my sympathy for the midfielder has waned a great deal. He’s realised that even though the money in Saudi is a lot greener, the grass on that side certainly isn’t.

Henderson wants out. And in doing so, chances are he will lose an awful lot of money. Part of the contract he has signed, as I understand it, means that if he doesn’t fulfil his two-year commitment then he’s responsible for paying tax, which no doubt, will add up to a pretty penny.

But let’s face facts here, Henderson wasn’t short of a bob or two when he made the move to Saudi.

He’s just realised that playing in near-empty stadiums with atmosphere akin to a Monday night in a country and western bar on the Moon, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

And he’s not alone.

Word on the street is that his former Liverpool teammate Roberto Firmino is also looking for an escape route just six months after he joined Saudi Pro League side Al-Ahli – where he has struggled to showcase his quality.

I don’t for one minute wish either of these two bad vibes, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to see them play against Liverpool again.

I loved and cheered them both when they wore Liverpool’s red, and they were an integral part of the success masterminded by Jurgen Klopp.

To finish on an extremely selfish note, I suppose the one good thing about Henderson, Firmino, and any other players looking for an escape route from the Middle East, is that they must talk to each other.

I’m sure in some professional footballers’ WhatsApp group there’s a discussion going on right about now saying life in Saudi isn’t all that good.

And I hope Jordan has already spoke to Mohammed Salah and told him: “Mo, don’t go.”

Theo Vietnamnews