England boss Gareth Southgate explains Jordan Henderson action being taken after Australia win

England Jordan Henderson

England opted to start Jordan Henderson for their narrow 1-0 win over Australia on Friday night

Jack Otway

By Jack Otway

Published: 14/10/2023

- 08:38

The Three Lions edged a tight contest at Wembley

Gareth Southgate has insisted England are reviewing all of Jordan Henderson's matches in Saudi Arabia after the midfielder was booed on Friday night.

The Three Lions won 1-0 against Australia, with Aston Villa hitman Ollie Watkins scoring the only goal of the game at Wembley.

England opted to start Henderson for the match, despite the 33-year-old playing for Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq.

The former Liverpool star was widely criticised back in the summer after opting to move to the Middle East, where homosexuality is illegal and even punishable by death.

England Gareth Southgate Jordan Henderson Australia

England boss Gareth Southgate has defended Jordan Henderson after his side's win over Australia


Henderson has long backed the LGBTQ+ community, even wearing rainbow armbands and laces during his spell at Anfield.

Yet he was jeered and whistled by large sections of the crowd as England battled their way to a narrow win over their rivals.

And Southgate has now slammed the Wembley boo boys, while also insisting England are reviewing Henderson's performances in Saudi to justify the veteran's selection.

"I really don't understand it," said the 53-year-old, whose side lock horns with Italy in a European Championships qualifier on Tuesday.

"He's a player, 79 caps for England, his commitment and what he's delivered for England is exceptional.

"His role on and off the pitch is phenomenally important.

"He's taken the likes of [Jude] Bellingham under his wing. He's a role model for the group in every part of his work.

"Some people decided to boo. I really don't understand what that's for.

"We play Italy here on Tuesday, come on let's get behind this team.

"I know we weren't at our best tonight, but we made a lot of changes.

"This is a team that are delivering a lot and they all deserve every bit of support.

"We're reviewing all of the [Henderson] games. I think he knitted and held things together quite a bit today.

"You need leadership, we didn't have a lot of caps on the field so Hendo's influence before the game, during the game was hugely important and he helped other players get through the game."

Henderson has kept a low profile since his move to Saudi.

But, in a recent interview with The Athletic, he defended his decision to take the money and move to another part of the world.

"All I've ever tried to do is help," he stated.

"And when I've been asked for help, I've gone above and beyond to help.

"I've worn the laces. I've worn the armband. I've spoken to people in that community to try to use my profile to help them. That's all I've ever tried to do.

"I'm not going to sit here saying, 'Why are they criticising me?' I understand it. These are all the things I was thinking about, and I do care.

"When I hear stuff like, 'You've turned your back on us,' that hurts me.

"I do care. I have family and friends in the LGBTQ+ community… I'm comfortable knowing exactly what I am and exactly what I stand for.


England Ollie Watkins Australia

England star Ollie Watkins was on target during his side's 1-0 win over Australia on Friday night


"But I get [that] and I can accept not everyone's going to get that.

"So that's why I can only apologise to those people if they feel like that."

It remains to be seen if Henderson starts for England when they do battle with Italy on Tuesday night.

Goals from Declan Rice and Harry Kane gave the Three Lions victory when the two teams met back in March.

Luke Shaw was also dismissed that day.

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