Jake Daniels blasts Jordan Henderson and brands Saudi Arabia move ‘a slap in the face’
Jake Daniels last year became the first openly gay active British male professional footballer since Justin Fashanu in 1990.
Blackpool forward Jake Daniels has said it was a slap in the face when Jordan Henderson moved to play in Saudi Arabia.
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.’
‘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.’
Jordan Henderson's responds to the LGBTQ+ Community
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview earlier this year, Henderson attempted to defend his move to the Saudi Pro League and insisted his transfer was not motivated by money, amid reports he was set to earn £700,000-a-weeek…
Response to the LGBTQ+ Community:
‘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.’
It wasn’t about the money:
‘Honestly, the numbers just aren’t true. But again, it had to work out for us financially as well. I’m not saying that it didn’t and I’m not saying, “Oh, I’m not on good money” because it’s good money and it was a good deal but it wasn’t the numbers that were reported. No.
‘People can believe me or not, but in my life and my career, money has never been a motivation. Ever. Don’t get me wrong, when you move, the business deal has to be right. You have to have financials, you have to feel wanted, you have to feel valued. And money is a part of that.’
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.’
For more stories like this, check our sport page.