Gareth Southgate pleads for Jordan Henderson support ahead of Ukraine clash

England manager Jordan Henderson has urged fans to show their support for midfielder Jordan Henderson ahead of Saturday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine.

Henderson attracted plenty of criticism this summer when he agreed to leave Liverpool for Saudi Arabia’s Al Ettifaq, with many questioning how someone who has been such a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights could opt to make the move to the Middle Eastern country.

A recent interview saw Henderson attempt to dispel claims he only made the move to secure a huge pay day, but his comments may have had the opposite impact as supporters’ frustrations only grew.

Back on the football pitch, Henderson is expected to start Saturday’s game – a decision which could incite protests from England’s LGBTQ+ supporters group Three Lions Pride, who called for Henderson never to represent his country again.

“I think Jordan expressed himself this week that he would be sad if that’s how they felt,” Southgate said in response to questions about the potential protests. “His feeling towards that community hasn’t changed.

“As a team, I’m sure all of our fans are going to get behind the team when the game starts.

“I understand some of the comments that have been made and I respect the comments that have been made, but what has also said is they will get behind the team when we play, and I’m sure they will get behind Jordan when the game starts as well.”

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Saudi Pro League director Michael Emenalo recently admitted he was ‘proud’ of Henderson for speaking out.

“I’m very proud that he chose, of his own volition, to express support and values that he shares,” Emenalo told Sky Sports News. “He shouldn’t be vilified for that.

“I’m very proud that he is able to make a decision, professionally, that allows him and his family to continue to live the life that he wants to live.

“The Jordan Henderson I know hasn’t changed, I met and had a conversation with him. He remains passionate about the game and about life, he remains passionate about his beliefs. I have nothing but the best wishes for him and I’m sure that he will help not only the league grow on the pitch, but also off of it with some of these issues. I have no doubt he will be a wonderful addition to our league.”

LISTEN NOW TO 90MIN’S TALKING TRANSFERS PODCAST

On this edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders is joined by Graeme Bailey to discuss Al Ittihad’s attempts to sign Mohamed Salah, Jadon Sancho’s Man Utd future, the players that could still leave the Premier League and more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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