Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard says Cristiano Ronaldo’s decision to Saudi Pro League convinced him to accept Al-Ettifaq’s managerial offer.
After terminating his Manchester United contract by mutual consent, Cristiano Ronaldo joined Saudi side Al-Nassr in January 2023. Following his arrival, many big names in European football joined Saudi teams, including Steven Gerrard who became Al-Ettifaq’s manager.
Gerrard labels Ronaldo ‘The GOAT’
In an interview with the Saudi Pro League, Gerrard who played against Ronaldo when they were in the Premier League, said the arrival of “THE GOAT” convinced him to join the Saudi league.
“The arrival of ‘The GOAT’ as we call him, Cristiano (Ronaldo), him arriving in January obviously (was) a huge signing,” the former Liverpool midfielder said. “He still had a lot of football to offer. So, from afar, for six months, I was looking in at Cristiano Ronaldo’s results, at the league. watching some games and watching some highlights. I think from that moment, the league around the world had become a very popular talking point for everyone. After Cristiano’s arrival, even more big-name signings, talents and skill sets were joining the league. At the time it coincided with me being out of the game and looking for my next opportunity. so I was fascinated from afar looking in, and when my agent brought a couple of opportunities in the gulf area at the time, I was fascinated to explore them.
“The Ettifaq proposal and opportunity was the most exciting for me because I’ve signed up to a club where the board are very passionate. They understand where the club is at, they understand it’s something that’s going to need building, and it’s going to take time. That’s the reason why I was very interested to analyse this one, because in my job you need time. Especially when a club has finished seventh in the league and so many points behind the top four. That’s not an easy fix; it’s not something you fix in a week, a month, or six months. It’s a project to build on the pitch, which is obviously the priority, but also a lot of things needed to change around it to give the first team the support it needs.”
Gerrard explains Henderson signing
Gerrard also explained why he decided to sign his former Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson for Al-Ettifaq in the summer.
“I think when you’re the coach, the manager. you want players going into games that can be an extended version of the staff,” he added. “People, who can really help on-pitch coaching. where the team needs to be in terms of distances, to make on-field decisions. Myself and Jordan (Henderson) we have that trust. We played together and he’s a fantastic player still, a fantastic human being. For us, to execute that signing was key and very important and I think a lot of the other signings we made came on the back of Jordan agreeing to come here.
“I think he wanted to still play, I think that was the key. He was at Liverpool at the time, he’s had a fantastic career. he’s achieved everything at that club, he’s been a fantastic servant to Liverpool Football Club. And when we knew it was a possibility, I wanted to be aggressive and wanted that to be my first signing. because for me it was a no-brainer.”
Gerrard’s side is in seventh place in the Pro League table after 13 games. They are 13 points behind leaders Al-Hilal.