Steven Gerrard joins growing list of football icons in Saudi, takes helm at Al-Ettifaq
Former Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has had a change of heart and accepted the position of head coach at Saudi Pro League club Al-Ettifaq.
The announcement came through a Twitter post by the club, proclaiming, “Where legends are found. We’re thrilled to announce Steven Gerrard is our new head coach.” Gerrard had previously distanced himself from the role, but it appears that he has reconsidered his decision. This move sees Gerrard join the growing list of high-profile football figures making their way to Saudi Arabia in recent times.
Al-Ettifaq, who finished seventh in the league last season under the guidance of Antonio Cazorla, will be aiming for improved performance under Gerrard’s leadership. The Saudi Pro League has witnessed a rise in quality with the intervention of the country’s Public Investment Fund, which has taken control of four clubs, excluding Al-Ettifaq. The league’s increasing appeal has attracted notable names, adding to the excitement and competitiveness within the domestic football landscape.
Gerrard embarked on his managerial journey in 2018 at Rangers after retiring from his illustrious playing career. He achieved success with Rangers, winning the Scottish Premiership in the 2020-21 season. However, he made a move to Aston Villa in November of the same year. Despite a promising start at Villa Park, Gerrard struggled to maintain consistent results, recording 13 wins in 40 matches before his dismissal. Unai Emery took over and steered the team to a strong finish, securing European qualification with a seventh-place finish in the table.
Since his departure from Villa in October, Gerrard has been without a managerial role. The 43-year-old’s decision to join Al-Ettifaq opens a new chapter in his coaching career and presents an opportunity for him to leave his mark on the rapidly evolving Saudi Pro League. Gerrard will encounter familiar faces in the league, including Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr and Karim Benzema at Al Ittihad. The league’s allure has also attracted midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, who recently signed a three-year contract with Al-Nassr, departing from Internazionale in a deal worth approximately £17.5 million.
As Saudi Arabia’s domestic league continues to make strides in its development, the influx of renowned football talent signals a growing ambition to raise the profile and competitiveness of the league on the global stage. With Gerrard now at the helm of Al-Ettifaq, fans and football enthusiasts alike will be eagerly watching to see how he shapes the team and contributes to the league’s growth in the coming seasons.