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Friday, June 21, 2024

England head coach Gareth Southgate takes in Jordan Henderson’s Ajax debut

England men’s head coach Gareth Southgate was present for Jordan Henderson’s Ajax debut on Saturday, as the Amsterdam side drew 1-1 with Eredivisie league leaders PSV at home.

Henderson, 33, moved to Ajax from Al Ettifaq in January, despite having only joined the Saudi Arabian club on a three-year contract six months earlier. The midfielder played only 19 games for Al Ettifaq before signing a contract with Ajax until June 2026, and refused to criticise the Saudi Pro League upon his exit from the Gulf state.

The Athletic reported in July that Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia would not impact his place in the England squad, following talks with Southgate. He was then selected in all three of Southgate’s squads in the first half of the season but was booed by England fans during home matches in the October and November international breaks.

Henderson played the full game in his Ajax debut, in which Ajax had taken the lead in the 19th minute through Steven Bergwijn before Luuk de Jong equalised shortly after.

Henderson made his Ajax debut on Saturday having played just 19 times in six months at Al Ettifaq (Maurice van Steen/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Ajax remain fifth in the league after the draw, eight points behind second-placed Feyenoord — who occupy the final Champions League spot — and 21 behind leaders PSV, who are unbeaten domestically.

Ajax had a poor start to the campaign and previous head coach Maurice Steijn was sacked with the side second-bottom in the Eredivisie after 11 games. Under interim coach John van ‘t Schip, though, Ajax have risen up the table thanks to a 12-match unbeaten run since the 5-2 loss at PSV in late October.

Former Nottingham Forest coach Steve Cooper was also present at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

(ANP via Getty Images)

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