The former Germany footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger has criticised Jordan Henderson for joining the Saudi Arabian club Al-Ettifaq and said the England international’s “brand” as an ally of the LGBTQ+ community is dead.

Henderson, a vocal supporter of the Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign and inclusion within the game, left Liverpool after 12 years on Thursday for the Saudi Pro League club. The 33-year-old signed a three-year contract worth £700,000 a week to join a team managed by another former Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard.

Hitzlsperger, who played for Aston Villa, West Ham and Everton in the Premier League, announced he was gay in 2014 after his playing career was over. The 41-year-old expressed dismay over Henderson’s move to Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death.

“So Jordan Henderson finally gets his move to Saudi Arabia. Fair play to him, he can play wherever he wants to play,” Hitzlsperger posted on social media. “Curious to know though how the new brand JH will look like. The old one is dead! I did believe for a while that his support for the [rainbow emoji] community would be genuine. Silly me.”

Al-Ettifaq announced the signing of Henderson with a video montage of his career. In it, the then Liverpool captain’s rainbow armband is doctored to appear in black and white.

Several high-profile male footballers have accepted lucrative contracts with Saudi Pro League clubs this summer but Henderson has attracted the fiercest criticism because of his support for the LGBTQ+ community. Liverpool’s official LGBT+ fans group, Kop Outs, has questioned whether Henderson “was ever an actual ally”.

Liverpool’s club supporters’ board, which includes representatives from Kop Outs and the women’s supporters’ club, said Henderson’s move to Saudi had caused “hurt and division”.

A statement said: “Jordan Henderson was a true captain and true leader for Liverpool on and off the pitch. We know he did much to promote inclusion. He stood out as a principled footballer. We are therefore very disappointed by his decision and the hurt and division it has created.

“The very essence of the Liverpool Supporters Board is to be inclusive and ensure all Liverpool fans, whatever their faith, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability can attend and enjoy football. That’s what we want for fans, that’s what we want for football. We stand in solidarity with our allies from Kop Outs, Liverpool’s LGBT+ fans’ group.”