Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia: “I’m so proud”

San oversized likeness, thousands of eagerly awaiting fans in the stadium, a mighty light show: the welcome at his new club Al-Nassr was exactly what Cristiano Ronaldo liked. The former world footballer flirted with the countless cameras, he enjoyed the exuberant declarations of love – and willingly returned the compliments to his new Saudi Arabian breadwinner for a reported annual salary of 200 million euros.

“I’ve had many opportunities, received offers from many clubs in Europe, Brazil, Australia and the USA, but I chose this club,” said CR7 on Tuesday evening in Riyadh: “My job is done in Europe. I’ve won everything, I’ve played for the biggest clubs. Now I have a new mission in Asia.”

When asked about his mega contract, the superstar explained with the usual self-confidence: “I’m a unique player.” A unique contract is therefore “normal” for a player like him.

Pompous reception for the world star

Even during a so-called press conference, where no questions were asked by journalists, Ronaldo received warm cheers. “We love you,” came the voice from the plenum. His typical exclamation “Siiiiuuuu” was also made by some viewers. “I’ve had a great reception here,” said a happy Ronaldo – who, however, briefly lost his bearings and confused Saudi Arabia with South Africa. This did not detract from the homage to his person.

So there was an atmosphere at Msool Park, and yet the performance inevitably brought to mind one of the greatest moments of Ronaldo’s career – and was rather dreary in comparison. On July 6, 2009, twelve and a half years ago, the Portuguese was introduced to Real Madrid. More than 80,000 fans came to the legendary Bernabeu stadium, Ronaldo breaking a presentation record previously held by Diego Maradona.

Millions also sat in front of the screens, Ronaldo was now part of the Galactic and the most expensive footballer in the world at the time (94 million euros to Manchester United) – it was a global event.

4929 days later almost everything is different. Not only that this time he wore a yellow and blue jersey instead of royal white. Manchester United didn’t want a fee this time either, United just wanted to get rid of him. So sorted out at the club, and the unimaginable also happened in the national team at the World Cup in Qatar: Ronaldo was just sitting on the bench.

Cristiano Ronaldo in new club colors: The Portuguese on an advertising banner in Riyadh

Image: AFP

In Saudi Arabia he earns like never before, his contract until 2025 should already guarantee him around 500 million euros. In addition, there is strong sponsorship income and probably a task as ambassador for Saudi Arabia’s application for the 2030 World Cup.

Ronaldo landed in Riyadh on Monday evening in a private plane, with his family, a large team of assistants and a private security company. In a black limousine we went to a luxury hotel, on Tuesday the medical check followed and then the ceremonial part.

The sporty, however, forms a clear contrast to this pompous show. On Thursday evening, everyday life in the league begins: Al-Tai FC join the leaders in Riyadh. It was initially unclear whether Ronaldo would then be available to French coach Rudi Garcia.

That will probably be the case in mid-January, when the top game at pursuers Al-Shabab is coming up – and it won’t get any bigger in the near future either: Al-Nassr will not start in the Asian Champions League this season.


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