Steven Gerrard, the legendary English and Liverpool footballer, has been named as the new manager of Saudi Arabian team Al-Ettifaq. It’s worth noting that in June, the 43-year-old mentioned being invited to the country to consider a potential offer, but he had explicitly stated that he would not be taking it up.
Gerrard’s last managerial role was with Aston Villa, but he was sacked in October last year and has been without a job since then.
Al-Ettifaq’s performance last season in the 16-team Saudi Pro League saw them finish in seventh position, with a considerable 35-point gap separating them from champions Al-Ittihad.
Details about the duration of Gerrard’s contract with the Saudi club have not been made available by the club.
The decision of the former England midfielder to join a Saudi Arabian club comes in the wake of a summer marked by substantial spending from Pro League teams, with several high-profile European players, including Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo, making their way to the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has witnessed the arrival of prominent players including former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, and the Chelsea trio consisting of N’Golo Kante, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Edouard Mendy. The latest completed transfer was Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic moving to Al-Nassr.
According to reports, Marco Silva, who is currently managing Fulham, has turned down a £17m offer to take charge of Al-Hilal.
This ongoing trend highlights the league’s determination to become one of the top five leagues globally. It stems from the recent decision by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns Newcastle United, to acquire ownership of four major clubs in the country in June. Notably, Al-Ettifaq is not included in that group.
Gerrard hung up his boots in 2016 and then took on the challenge of managing Scottish club Rangers as his first coaching job.
He became the manager of the Ibrox side in 2018 and orchestrated the club’s triumphant return to the top, securing their first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years in the 2020-21 season.
Gerrard transitioned to the role of Villa boss in November 2021 following his time at Rangers, but he decided to step down after achieving 13 victories from 40 matches while in charge.