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Steven Gerrard explains why he joined Saudi side Al-Ettifaq

Former Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard signed a three-year deal with the Saudi club last week.

Soccer Football - Steven Gerrard unveiled as the new coach of Al Ettifaq - London, Britain - July 3, 2023 New Al Ettifaq coach Steven Gerrard poses for a photograph with club president Khaled Al Dabal Ettifaq Media Office/Handout via REUTERS  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO ARCHIVES. NO RESALES.

Steven Gerrard says a “family feeling” at Al-Ettifaq helped his decision to join the Saudi Pro League club.

The former Aston Villa boss signed a three-year contract with the Saudi side last week and spoke to Al-Ettifaq’s official channels about the move.

“When I went to Saudi I got a real family feeling. It made me actually feel welcomed,” Gerrard told Al-Ettifaq’s Twitter account.

“There are three things I always consider in order - it needs to be right for my family first and foremost. We have to be excited and motivated by the challenge,” he added.

“Secondly I think the football project needs to be ambitious, it needs to be for the right reasons, and then of course you need to feel secure with the contract, but this comes at the very end.”

Players make move to Saudi Arabia

Former Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema joined Al-Ittihad in June and several top names have made the move to the ever-growing league.

Rúben Neves, Roberto Firmino, Kalidou Kouliably, N’Golo Kanté, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Marcelo Brozović have all recently joined Saudi clubs.

Robbie Fowler, once a team-mate of Gerrard at Liverpool, was appointed coach of Saudi Second Division side Al-Qadsiah last week.

Gerrard replaces Spanish coach Antonio Cazorla in the dugout at Al-Ettifaq, who finished seventh in the Saudi top flight in 2022-23.