Saudi Arabia lures another football star as Steven Gerrard agrees to manage Al-Ettifaq

Rangers' manager Steven Gerrard sits on the bench during the Europa League round of 16 first leg soccer match between Rangers and Bayer Leverkusen at the Ibrox stadium in Glasgow, Scotland, March 12, 2020. Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was hired as Aston Villa manager on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. Gerrard has left Rangers, which he led to the Scottish league title last season. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, file)

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Saudi Arabia has landed another soccer icon after Liverpool great Steven Gerrard was hired as manager of Al-Ettifaq on Monday.

The former England captain is the latest star name to be lured to the oil-rich kingdom as it embarks on an ever-expanding recruitment drive.

Gerrard, who has managed Scottish club Rangers and Premier League side Aston Villa since retiring as a player, follows another former Liverpool star, Robbie Fowler, who was hired by Al-Qadisiyah last week.

“Here is the source of the legends,” Al-Ettifaq tweeted. “We’re thrilled to announce Steven Gerrard is our new head coach.”

Gerrard hasn’t managed a team since being fired by Villa last season when the club was just one place above the Premier League relegation zone.

It brought an abrupt halt to a coaching career that looked set to soar after Gerrard led Rangers to the Scottish league title in 2021 and broke Celtic’s streak of nine championships on the run.

Before joining Villa, he had been tipped to be a future Liverpool manager and a successor to Jurgen Klopp.

Al-Ettifaq, which plays in the lucrative Saudi Pro League, is yet to sign a major player in an offseason that has seen Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante and a number of stars from Europe’s top leagues head to the country to join Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed for Al-Nassr in January.

As a player, Gerrard won many of soccer’s biggest club trophies, including the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005. He won seven more major cups during a highly-decorated career, but never lifted the Premier League title.

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