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Jordan Henderson lauds Ajax's 'incredible' history as he joins the Dutch giants following brief Saudi stint… but club's reverence for one legend means he can't wear his favourite shirt number!

Jordan Henderson has said he wants to add to Ajax’s rich history after he was unveiled by the Dutch club following his move back to Europe from Saudi Arabia.

The England midfielder toured the club’s museum and spoke about Ajax legends after terminating his contract with Al-Ettifaq following an unsettled six months there.

Henderson, 33, has signed for Ajax on a two-and-a-half year deal and will be tasked with turning around a nightmare season for the Amsterdam club.

Ajax sit a lowly fifth in the Eredivisie, some 23 points behind runaway leaders PSV Eindhoven, were knocked out the Dutch Cup by amateurs USV Hercules and bombed out the Europa League into the Conference League.

But ex-Liverpool man Henderson invoked Ajax’s rich past as he said: ‘When I was a kid, there were obviously a lot of great players that played for Ajax. I can remember [Clarence] Seedorf, [Frank] Rijkaard, [Marco] Van Basten, [Johan] Cruyff, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic].

Former Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has joined Ajax on a two-and-a-half year deal

Former Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has joined Ajax on a two-and-a-half year deal

England midfielder Henderson was filmed looking around Ajax's museum after he signed

England midfielder Henderson was filmed looking around Ajax’s museum after he signed

Henderson was pleased to see shirts with his name and new No 6 on sale in the club store

Henderson was pleased to see shirts with his name and new No 6 on sale in the club store

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‘Then obviously more recently, [Luis] Suarez, because I’m friends with him as well, so there are so many great players who have played for this club, which is why it’s one of the biggest in the world.

‘So I’m just so excited to be here and to see all this history is incredible really.

‘Ajax as a football club, it speaks for itself with the world class players that have played here for many, many years.

‘Once I knew there was an opportunity, I was excited and overwhelmed that this opportunity was there for me. It was something that I wanted to try and make happen. It’s very humbling for me to be here.’

Henderson will wear the No 6 shirt at Ajax – with replica jerseys already available in the club shop – because his usual No 14 was retired in honour of Cruyff. 

’14 is my number but that’s not allowed here, I’ve found out! I knew it had been retired for Cruyff, which is understandable,’ Henderson said.

‘No 6 is good for me, it’s my son’s birthday and my dad, when he was younger, he played No 6, so hopefully it’s a good omen.’

Ajax legend Johan Cruyff, wearing a Juventus shirt, receives the European Cup in 1973. Ajax beat the Italian side 1-0 in the final in Belgrade, making it a hat-trick of wins

Ajax legend Johan Cruyff, wearing a Juventus shirt, receives the European Cup in 1973. Ajax beat the Italian side 1-0 in the final in Belgrade, making it a hat-trick of wins

Henderson lauded Ajax's rich history as he gave an interview in their trophy room

Henderson lauded Ajax’s rich history as he gave an interview in their trophy room

He could make his debut when Ajax host RKC Waalwijk in the league on Sunday. 

Shortly after his signing was announced, the England international took to social media to thank his former teammates and fans and explain his decision to leave the Saudi club.

‘I’m sad to say that I will be leaving Al-Ettifaq with immediate effect.’ He wrote on X, formerly Twitter. ‘It wasn’t an easy decision but one that I feel is best for me and my family.

Ajax released a series of images on their website with Jordan Henderson posing in their kit

Ajax released a series of images on their website with Jordan Henderson posing in their kit

Henderson claimed that the decision to leave the Saudi club after only six months was best for him ad his family

Henderson claimed that the decision to leave the Saudi club after only six months was best for him ad his family

Henderson said that he decision to leave the Saudi cub was best for both him and his family

Henderson said that he decision to leave the Saudi cub was best for both him and his family

‘I want to take this opportunity to thank the club & the fans for all the support during my time. I really felt the love from Day One. I’ll keep watching & hoping for your success. Good luck for the future.’

Ajax announced the marquee capture in a video that lauded his abilities as a leader and comfort playing in ‘red and white’ – owing to his early days with boyhood club Sunderland.

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Ajax interim boss John van’t Schip told the club’s website: ‘We wanted an experienced midfielder with leadership qualities. Partially due to injuries in the team, we were looking for someone who could step in immediately. Jordan Henderson is that type of player.

‘His arrival means a huge enhancement for our squad. Both on and off the pitch, a football player of this calibre is important for our many young players.

‘He’s an English international player and has won the Champions League and many other prizes with Liverpool. I am happy he’s here.’

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