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Headlinesn > Sports > Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia a slap in the face for Jake Daniels
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Jordan Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia a slap in the face for Jake Daniels

Blackpool forward Jake Daniels has said it was a slap in the face when Jordan Henderson moved to play in Saudi Arabia.

Daniels last year became the first openly gay active British male professional footballer since Justin Fashanu in 1990.

Former Liverpool captain Henderson had been a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ+ community before his decision to join Saudi club Al-Ettifaq from Liverpool in the summer.

Homosexuality is illegal in the Gulf state, leading some to accuse the England midfielder of turning his back on the community.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newsbeat, Daniels said: “He (Henderson) messaged me when I came out. He was backing me and said: ‘We’re proud of what you’ve done.’ And seeing him move to Saudi, it kind of like, slaps me in my face really.

“Obviously it was frustrating. But I guess the money pays well, and money must mean more to people.”

Henderson’s former Liverpool and England team-mate Steven Gerrard is currently his manager in the Saudi Pro League.

Daniels, who made his senior debut for Blackpool in May 2022, said Gerrard had personally reached out out to him following his decision to come out.

He added: “I met him in person and he said: ‘If you ever want to get in contact then message me’. But he moved over (to Saudi Arabia). It was frustrating”

Saudi Arabia is the sole bidder to host the 2034 men’s World Cup, 12 years after Qatar – where homosexuality is also illegal – staged the global tournament.

Daniels said he “wouldn’t feel safe” travelling to such places.

He said: “The World Cup that happened in Qatar, the one that is going to happen in Saudi Arabia, for me if I was there I wouldn’t feel safe, so that’s just putting your football in jeopardy.”

Daniels believes his decision to come out 18 months ago has helped his career.

“It has been crazy since coming out,” he added.

“I didn’t think it would blow up as much as it did. The reception I’ve had, the people I’ve met, it’s been a crazy experience.

“Coming out was the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m playing better now.”

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