Declan Rice hints at why Jordan Henderson returned for England after Saudi move

Declan Rice has hinted at a big reason as to why Jordan Henderson has kept his spot in the England squad. The Arsenal star referred to his midfield partner as “skipper” following his controversial move to the Saudi Pro League.

Henderson has faced major backlash after leaving Liverpool for Al-Ittihad in July. The 33-year-old has previously been a big supporter of LGBTQ+ rights.

However, he has moved to play in a country that criminalises homosexuality. LGBTQ+ supporter groups have spoken out about their anger and disappointment at Henderson, with Three Lions Pride claiming they would turn their back to play if he plays for his country again.

England boss Gareth Southgate also had to make a decision on whether to select Henderson for football reasons. Despite the influx of major signings this summer, the Saudi Pro League is still considered a long way behind the standard of the Premier League.

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But Southgate ignored outside noise and not only selected Henderson but started him in Saturday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine. And now a video released by England’s official TikTok account on Sunday may prove why.

Rice was asked to describe each of his fellow squad members in one word. Despite Henderson not being the England captain, he quickly said ‘skipper’ when it came to his turn.

Harry Kane is England’s captain but Rice instead labelled him ‘finisher’. Rice’s opinion on Henderson is a big hint as to why Southgate has continued to pick him.

He was captain at Liverpool for eight years and his leadership qualities are clearly something Southgate values in and around the dressing room. Not only does Southgate recognise that but Rice’s comment proves his team-mates do too.

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Henderson has won 78 caps for England since making his debut in 2010. Southgate’s side are well-placed to qualify for Euro 2024 despite the 1-1 draw in Poland at the weekend.

It would likely be Henderson’s final major tournament if selected as he turns 34 next June. Southgate admitted Henderson would be affected if fan groups turned on him while playing for his country.

He said: “I think Jordan expressed himself this week that he would be sad if that’s how they felt. His feeling towards that community hasn’t changed.

“I understand some of the comments that have been made and I respect the comments that have been made, but what has also been 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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