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Steven Gerrard is Saudi’s latest big-name football signing

Steven Gerrard Al-Ettifaq Reuters
Steven Gerrard, who left English Premier League club Aston Villa last October, is joining Al-Ettifaq as manager
  • Gerrard appointed manager of Saudi team Al-Ettifaq
  • Joins players such as Ronaldo and Benzema in the kingdom
  • Al-Ettifaq placed 7th in the 16-team league last season

Former Liverpool and England midfielder Steven Gerrard is the latest name to be recruited into Saudi Arabia’s football revolution after being named manager of Al-Ettifaq.

The 43-year-old has signed a two-year deal, following players including Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy to the kingdom.

“Gerrard’s presence will be an addition and a quantum leap to our league,” said Khalid al Dabal, chairman of Al-Ettifaq.

Gerrard led Glasgow Rangers to their 55th Scottish Premier League title in 2021 in his first managerial appointment. He has not had a role since being sacked by English Premier League side Aston Villa in October last year.

Based in Dammam, Al-Ettifaq finished seventh in the 16-team Saudi Pro League last season, 35 points behind champions Al-Ittihad.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed plans last month to transform the Saudi Pro League into a SAR8 billion ($2.1 billion) force by the end of the decade.

The project – part of the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the country away from an oil-based economy – also aims to privatise all sporting clubs, starting from the final quarter of this year.

Gerrard, who won 114 caps for his country, is no stranger to the region, having been linked with the Azizi Crystal tower development in Dubai back in 2008, dubbed by many as “Steven Gerrard Tower”.

It was claimed he was promised a free flat worth $1.21 million to endorse the $100 million tower at a launch party at London’s Dorchester Hotel.

“I am truly privileged to be part of such a pioneering project,” Gerrard was quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo at the time.

However, Azizi Developments later confirmed that development of the tower had been stopped.

Gerrard’s former Liverpool teammate Robbie Fowler was named manager of Saudi Arabian second-tier side Al-Qadsiah FC last month.