Fans say Steven Gerrard has 'sold his soul' after posing for Saudi National Day
Steven Gerrard has made a strong start to his stint at Al-Ettifaq, and appears to be enjoying life in Saudi Arabia after posting photos on Instagram wearing a traditional dress
Football fans have accused Steven Gerrard of selling his soul after being pictured wearing a traditional Saudi thawb.
The Liverpool legend, who manages Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq, donned the garment in celebration of Saudi National Day - a public holiday in the Gulf state which commemorates the Kingdom's name change in 1932. Together with his club, Gerrard uploaded several snaps of him in the thawb, along with the caption: "Suited and booted for #SaudiNationalDay93."
Fans flocked to the comments section of the post, many of whom slammed Gerrard for assimilating so readily into Saudi culture. One person wrote: "People will do anything for money, Stevie NO."
"Absolutely not sportswashing, Stevie’s just here for this exciting football project," a second commented sarcastically. A third added: "What has he turned into." A fourth said: "What have Saudi Arabia done to my goat," while a fifth joked: "Give your head a sheikh, Stevie." Another said: "It's depressing seeing Gerrard sell his soul."
Gerrard was one of a number of high-profile football stars to move to the Saudi Pro League this summer after accepting an offer from Al-Ettifaq in July. He controversially recruited his former Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson, as well as ex-Reds midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, ex-Everton man Demarai Gray and former Celtic ace Jack Hendry.
His team have made a flying start to the new campaign, winning five of their first seven league matches, and are currently just two points behind leaders Al-Ittihad, who signed the likes of Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kante and Fabinho over the summer. Al-Ettifaq's form is made more impressive by the fact they aren't one of the clubs financially-backed by the government's Public Investment Fund (PIF), though they're no exactly penniless - as proven by the reported £700,000-a-week contract they handed to Henderson.
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Prior to his move to Saudi Arabia, Gerrard had been out of work since being sacked by Aston Villa in October 2022 after winning just two of the first 12 league matches of the season. He isn't the only former Premier League boss to have been lured to the country this year, with former Tottenham and Wolves head coach Nuno Espiroto Santo being poached by Al-Ittihad, and ex-West Ham manager Slaven Bilic joining Al-Fateh.