Al-Ettifaq boss Steven Gerrard eyes return to England
DAMMAM – Steven Gerrard’s Saudi Pro League adventure as manager of Al-Ettifaq got off to a winning start on Monday in a searing Dammam, but it is a hot seat in England that he still yearns for.
Speaking to reporters after a 2-1 win over Al-Nassr, the 43-year-old said: “I’ve got ambitions to go back (to England) at some point. I’ve got ambitions to be the best manager I can be and be involved in the biggest challenges out there... by doing well here, I’m sure it’ll give me a better chance.”
Gerrard guided Rangers to their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade in 2021 before joining Aston Villa, where he was sacked last October after just 11 months in charge.
Known for his tenacity in midfield during his playing days, the former Liverpool and England captain showed he has not lost any of that doggedness on Monday. He prowled the touchline for most of the match, even as summer temperatures hit 36 deg C.
At the half-time break, the Englishman was in a heated discussion with Al-Nassr boss Luis Castro.
But despite his passion and the growing reach of Saudi Arabian football with big names moving to the kingdom, it is still miles away from the English Premier League and his boyhood club.
Liverpool fans around the world still dream of the day when they see their Anfield hero, who won two FA Cups, three League Cups, a Champions League trophy and Uefa Cup with the club, leading them in the dugout. Even current Reds manager Jurgen Klopp had previously said that Gerrard will “definitely” become Liverpool manager one day.
But while that looks like a distant dream for now, he is determined to achieve success in Saudi Arabia.
Noting that he had missed out on two opportunities to stay in England, he said: “This was the best offer on the table because we had two offers that had a chance, that were took away from me rather than me making that decision.
“I was in for two Championship jobs. I’m not afraid to say that, I never got them jobs, and I didn’t want to stay out of the game much longer and this was the best thing on the table at the time.”
Another big name will be joining Gerrard and the bevy of former EPL players on their Saudi adventure soon. According to reports, Brazil star striker Neymar is on the verge of sealing a move to Al-Hilal from Paris Saint-Germain.
Gerrard said: “The name speaks for itself. He’s given me so much joy to watch him. I don’t think the boy gets enough credit for the numbers that he’s put up in the last decade or so. I don’t want him to come because he’s not coming to my team, but he’ll certainly bring a lot of value and quality and credibility.
“He is in Hollywood terms an A-list football star... and it makes my job extremely hard.”