Liverpool legends sent 'slapped in face' message by dismayed Blackpool pioneer

Jordan Henderson had previously spoken out about LGBTQ+ rights. (Image: Getty Images)Jordan Henderson had previously spoken out about LGBTQ+ rights. (Image: Getty Images)
Jordan Henderson had previously spoken out about LGBTQ+ rights. (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

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The Blackpool star has spoken out about Jordan Henderson's controversial summer move to Saudi Arabia.

Blackpool star Jake Daniels has labelled Jordan Henderson's transfer from Liverpool to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq as a 'slap in the face' and also shared disappointment towards Reds legend Steven Gerrard.

Daniels is the UK's only openly gay active male professional footballer and came out last year to a wave of support from professional stars including Henderson. The 18-year-old shared how the former Liverpool midfielder had reached out to him those 18 months ago.

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The forward told BBC Sport: "It was frustrating [Henderson's move to Al-Ettifaq]. Henderson messaged me when I came out, I had the DM on my phone and he was backing me the whole way. He said he was proud of what I'd done.

!Seeing him move to Saudi, he slapped it in my face, hasn't he? Obviously, it's frustrating but I guess the money pays well and money must mean more to people. I haven't spoken to him since.

"It's the same with Gerrard, he's gone over there. When I met him in person he said if you ever want to get in contact then message me, but he moved over. It was frustrating, so many people moved over.

"For me, the World Cup that happened in Qatar, the one that's going to happen in Saudi Arabia, for me I wouldn't feel safe playing over there. That's putting your football in jeopardy."

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Henderson came under heavy criticism for his transfer to the Middle East this summer on a £12 million deal from Anfield. The 33-year-old had previously been a staunch ally of the LGBTQ+ community.

In 2021, Henderson wrote in his programme notes: "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.

"The idea they’d have to hide from it to be accepted? But that’s exactly how too many members of the LGBT+ community feel. We know this because they tell us. So we should listen, support them and work to make it better."

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Jordan Henderson had previously spoken out about LGBTQ+ rights. (Image: Getty Images)Jordan Henderson had previously spoken out about LGBTQ+ rights. (Image: Getty Images)
Jordan Henderson had previously spoken out about LGBTQ+ rights. (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

In Saudi Arabia, same-sex relationships are prohibited under Sharia law and can be punished with the death penalty with the Human Dignity Trust reporting 'substantial evidence' of the law being enforced in recent years and LGBTQ+ people frequently arrested.

Speaking after backlash, Henderson told The Athletic: "I can understand the frustration. I can understand the anger. I get it. All I can say around that is that I’m sorry that they feel like that. My intention was never, ever to hurt anyone.

“My intention has always been to help causes and communities where I felt like they have asked for my help. Now, when I was making the decision, the way that I tried to look at it was I felt as though, by myself not going, we can all bury our heads in the sand and criticise different cultures and different countries from afar. But then nothing’s going to happen. Nothing’s going to change.”

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