Liverpool legend Jordan Henderson bemused by England boos as Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate defends captain

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The former Liverpool captain wasn’t given the warmest of welcomes when returning to England duty against Australia on Friday night.

Liverpool legend Jordan Henderson was on the receiving end of boos from England supporters on Friday night's friendly meeting with Australia and has branded the feeling as 'not nice'.

The midfielder accepted to 'take it on the chin' if fans felt aggrieved by his presence after years of service for his national side with Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate criticising England fans for the jeers. Henderson plays for Saudi club Al-Ettifaq, having moved to the Middle East from Merseyside this summer in a controversial transfer.

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The England captain said: "It's not nice, your own fans [booing]. I love playing for England. I have done for many years, that's why I'm still here. I still want to play for England for as long as I possibly can and give everything for the team, for my country."

When asked if he understood why a portion of England fans who filled Wembley Stadium on Friday night to watch the 1-0 win might have booed, Henderson replied: "Not really. I don't know… if people want to boo if I'm playing in a different country, that's fine. Everyone is going to have an opinion over [it] when I'm 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. Of course, it's disappointing, but it won't change what I do here. I want to keep playing and keep fighting 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, obviously. But I can understand it and I've got to take that on the chin."

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Henderson's £12 million move to Al-Ettifaq after 12 years at Liverpool was slammed by many given the atrocious human rights record in the country, which is a growing power in the world of football. A long list of former Premier League players, including ex-Reds Fabinho and Roberto Firmino, also moved to the country but few had been so outspoken with support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Henderson had taken part in awareness campaigns and penned emotional programme notes to LGBTQ+ football fans while at Liverpool. He once wrote: "But I do believe when you see something that is clearly wrong and makes another human being feel excluded you should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. You also have a responsibility to educate yourself better around the challenges they experience.

"That’s where my own position on homophobia in football is rooted. Before I’m a footballer, I’m a parent, a husband, a son, a brother and a friend to the people in my life who matter so much to me. The idea that any of them would feel excluded from playing or attending a football match, simply for being and identifying as who they are, blows my mind."

Jordan Henderson was back in England action at the weekend (Image: Getty Images)Jordan Henderson was back in England action at the weekend (Image: Getty Images)
Jordan Henderson was back in England action at the weekend (Image: Getty Images)

In Saudi Arabia, the LGBTQ+ community would not be allowed to attend a football match, let alone exist. Same-sex relationships are criminalised under Sharia law with the maximum penalty facing LGBTQ+ residents being the death penalty.

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Henderson had been accused of tokenism for then completing a move to the country but England boss Gareth Southgate has been steadfast in his defence of the player. Speaking out against last week's books, the England boss said that "it defies logic that you would give a player who is playing and putting his heart and soul into playing for England" that reaction, and added, "why boo him?".

England return to international action on Tuesday when they take on Italy at Wembley Stadium in a Euro 2024 qualifier.

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