Goodwin’s memorable return to Saudi Arabia after Adelaide boss discusses Reds exit

Former Adelaide United captain Craig Goodwin found the back of the net in his first game back for Al Wehda.

Craig Goodwin made his second debut for Al Wehda and the Socceroos star marked the occasion with a goal in the star-studded Saudi Pro League.

Goodwin completed a return to Al Wehda last week after Adelaide United agreed to sell their talismanic captain and reigning Isuzu UTE A-League Johnny Warren Medallist.

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He previously moved to Al Wehda from Adelaide in 2019 and scored four goals in 29 appearances before being loaned out to fellow Saudi club Abha and the Reds, who signed Goodwin permanently in 2022-23.

On Friday (AEST), Goodwin came off the bench and scored in the club’s 4-2 win over Damac.

Former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo bagged a hat-trick for the home side before Goodwin came off the bench at the start of the second half and found the back of the net in the 62nd minute.

Al Wehda are seventh in the Saudi Pro Leage, six points behind Karin Benzema’s Al Ittihad who are the defending champions.

It continued his red-hot form for club and country.

He not only scored for the Socceroos as they reached the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup round of 16 in Qatar, but became Adelaide’s all-time leading goalscorer last season.

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Goodwin won the Isuzu UTE A-League’s Johnny Warren Medal after scoring 15 goals and supplying 10 assists for Adelaide, who advanced to the Semi Finals in 2022-23, despite a lingering bout of osteitis pubis.

The 31-year-old became just the third player in A-League Men history to tally at least 10 goals and 10 assists in a season.

But Goodwin’s Adelaide departure did not seem amicable following his social media activity during the week, which appeared to take aim at the club’s management.

On Wednesday, he wrote via X (formerly Twitter): “Excited for this next chapter. I’m grateful and honoured for every time I’ve put on the United shirt and to captain the club and represent the incredible people and fans associated with it. But I am hugely disappointed with how this was handled.

“To not even get a good luck or thank you upon leaving and for the announcement video to be cropped along with other things is disappointing. Despite that. Adelaide United the playing group, the coaching staff and the fans will always be in my heart and I wish everyone success.”

In response, Reds head coach Carl Veart told News Corp Australia: “I wanted him to stay, and he wanted to stay, but he wanted longer-term security for his family.

“He was getting to an age where they (Reds officials) weren’t prepared to negotiate longer-term than what he had.

“I spoke to the club about this, saying that we needed to keep Craig and they agreed with me. I said that we needed to put an offer on the table for him, but we couldn’t put an offer on the table that was the same as the contract he was already on.

“But Craig has been a great servant of the club, he’s very valuable to the club, and when he left, I said to him that I’m sure in two years’ time, especially if I’m at the club, that he’ll definitely be welcomed back.

“We look forward to working with him again.”