Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer concur that former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson would have been ‘much better’ off had he not denied financial motivations behind his move to Al-Ettifaq.
The 33-year-old left a 12-year Anfield career to link up with Steven Gerrard in the Saudi Pro League, a transfer that brought with it criticism from both footballing and social standpoints.
Following initial questions, Henderson was eventually selected by England manager Gareth Southgate to be a part of the national team squad for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine and friendly against Scotland.
Then, when the Three Lions looked sluggish in a 1-1 draw with Ukraine, he started and played 90 minutes, prompting Lineker to talk.
I respect him and his career, he was a great footballer. But I did something similar. At the end of my career, I moved abroad to earn money and gain another experience. . I think it’s semi-retirement and I shouldn’t be playing international football,” the Match of the Day presenter explained in the latest episode of The Rest Is football podcast.
“When I made that decision, I withdrew from international football and to take the problem away from the manager at the time. I just think I’m not judging Jordan Henderson on whether he should do or should not do that, it’s up to him and I know there are huge superstars who have done the same thing.
“But if you’re [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi it’s slightly different, you leave things up to them.
“Personally, I don’t think you should play for money if you’re going to play after your career to get a big payday.” “Unless the circumstances are extreme or there’s a lack of talent, that’s never going to happen in midfield.”
On this topic, Shearer was in agreeance.
He replied: “That is one of our strongest positions with the talent in and around that area, I was really surprised that he played him the other day, particularly when we knew exactly how they were gonna play.
“We needed someone who could unlock the door, who can pick that little pass, when it’s gonna be tight someone who can run. The Harry Kane pass for Kyle Walker’s goal, we needed more of that. Jordan, that’s not one of his strengths, so I was really surprised.”
The Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer then shifted the debate to comments made by the former Reds midfielder in an interview last week.
Sheared said: “Did you read his interview last week? We touched on it a couple of weeks back where we basically said the guys are going for the money…”
“Just say it,” Lineker interrupted. “It’s fine. You’re protecting your family, your future, that’s fine. But don’t try and pretend otherwise, yeah?”
“Absolutely,” said Shearer, again of the same mind. “And that’s where all the criticism came from. You’ve got to try and understand it from his point of view as well maybe he’s very reluctant to say it because it’s maybe disrespecting his team or whatever – I don’t know – but I think he would have been coming out of it much better by saying ‘yeah, I’m doing it for my family and their family, and so on, for the rest of their lives’.
“I didn’t agree with what he said. I’m a huge admirer of who he is and what he is, as I’ve said before, some of the work he’s done – the great work he’s done – he’s had an unbelievable career. But I do think he should have come out and said ‘I’ve gone for the money’.”
Lineker’s parting shot of the debate was towards Southgate, believing the coach could have prevented some post-match irritation.
He said: “I also don’t think it did him any favour staying on for the full 90 minutes, I’m not sure Gareth did him too many favours there. It kind of exacerbated the problem.”