SAY IT AIN’T SO, HENDO
When Kenny Dalglish welcomed a 21-year-old Jordan Henderson to Liverpool from Sunderland for £16m a dozen years ago, an awful lot of people thought the then-Liverpool manager had lost his mind. This was back in the days when £16m was still considered a sizeable chunk of change, but Dalglish insisted he was paying for the player’s “huge potential” rather than anything significant he had achieved gadding around midfield at the Stadium of Light. “He is respectful and his principles and everything else on and off the pitch are exemplary,” said Kenny, whose words have since proved prophetic, at least until now.
As well as winning every trophy possible with Liverpool and establishing himself as a regular in the England squad, Henderson made a lot of friends along the way. He hitched his trailer to the LGBTQ+ wagon as an ally who was unafraid to speak out on behalf of a community who are often made to feel excluded from football. He also took the lead when it came to organising a generous footballer whip-round to raise funds during the pandemic, and has campaigned for Hope United in their bid to rid football of misogynistic hate. The general consensus has always been that the 33-year-old is one of football’s good eggs, even if now, in the eyes of many, Humpty Dumpty Hendo has had a great fall.
Following weeks of apparently agonised dithering, Henderson announced his departure from Liverpool in a video soundtracked by the mawkish strings and piano of Kanye West’s All Of The Lights. “I will always be a Red until the day I die,” he said, presumably aware that the day in question could come sooner than he might like should he continue his policy of promoting LGBTQ+ and women’s rights once he starts playing in Saudi Arabia. A country famous for its barbaric punishment of anyone adjudged to be espousing similar views to Henderson, it is also the home of Al-Ettifaq, the Saudi Pro League club that has reportedly agreed to quadruple his wages to a wallet-busting £700,000 per week.
Many of those who previously considered Henderson an ally have been vocal and stinging in their criticism of him for selling out his principles for the Saudi Riyal and their disappointment is understandable. At no point in his farewell video did he explain his reasons for moving to Al-Ettifaq, presumably because there is no point, as they are blatantly apparent. Nor did he address the brickbats that have been hurled his way in recent weeks, even though it is inconceivable he is unaware of the disappointment felt by those who feel so betrayed.
Liverpool’s LGBTQ+ fan group, Kop Outs, issued a statement on Wednesday that is withering in its dismissal of Henderson, while Thomas Hitzlsperger has also weighed in. “So Jordan Henderson finally gets his move to Saudi Arabia,” he posted on a rebranded Social Media Disgrace. “Fair play to him, he can play wherever he wants to play. Curious to know though how the new brand JH will look like. The old one is dead! I did believe for a while that his support for the (rainbow emoji) community would be genuine. Silly me …”
TODAY AT THE WORLD CUP
USA 1-1 Netherlands: The defending champions and tournament favourites needed an equaliser from Lindsey Horan to earn a point after Jill Roord’s opener
Portugal 2-0 Vietnam: Two early goals won the battle of debutants but Portugal will need a huge shock against USA! USA!! USA!!! to reach the knockout stages.
Australia 2-3 Nigeria: The Super Falcons came from a goal down to stun the wasteful co-hosts, who must now beat Canada to reach the last 16.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Pay them!!!!!! @thenff” – Ian Wright has a two-word message for the Nigerian FA after their Women’s World Cup win over Australia. The Super Falcons are thriving despite claims from their head coach that players have gone unpaid for months.
“Revisiting football shirt design and the fluff that seems to go around it these days. Here’s one that actually means something and demonstrates the enduring power of sport to connect people and communities. Well done, Raith Rovers” – John Mitchell.
“Re: Saudi spending. I am in my 70s and, like most of the transferred players, am past my best. However, as a long-time football fan, I can still sing a bit and even chant if given time to learn the words. If any of the clubs read this, I am available to scream and shout for the meagre sum of £1m tax-free per season” – James Boyle.
“The answer to the question, ‘did Pele hit the ground running like this?’ is, well, sort of. His first game for Cosmos saw him score one and assist the other in a 2-2 draw. In the next match he netted again, sparking a pitch invasion in which he was buried under a pile of fans and suffered an ankle injury. The goal was disallowed but he definitely hit the ground – running might have been the better option” – Mark Waters.
Send your letters to email@example.com. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … John Mitchell.
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Jordan Henderson deserves to take the heat for Saudi Arabia sellout - BRODHEALTH
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