Cristiano Ronaldo: Former Manchester United forward unveiled as Al Nassr player in Saudi Arabia
Cristiano Ronaldo says he gave his word to Al Nassr despite having many other offers around the world as the former Manchester United forward was officially unveiled by the Saudi Arabian club on Tuesday.
Ronaldo, whose two-year contract makes him the highest-paid footballer in the world, arrived in the Middle East on Monday and completed a medical ahead of his official presentation a day later.
The 37-year-old was greeted by a capacity crowd of 25,000 at a raucous Mrsool Park in Riyadh as excited fans enjoyed an impressive light show ahead of his unveiling.
THE GOAT HAS ARRIVED 🐐 pic.twitter.com/bj2g0Qb0Ma
— AlNassr FC (@AlNassrFC_EN) January 3, 2023
Speaking at a press conference before walking out onto the pitch in front of his new home supporters, Ronaldo said: “I feel so proud to make this big decision in my life.
“In Europe, my work is done. I won everything and now this is a new challenge.
“I’m grateful Al Nassr have given me this opportunity, not only for the football but for the young generation and the female generation.
“For me, this is a challenge but I feel very happy and very proud.
“I had many opportunities in Europe, in Brazil, in Australia, in the US and even in Portugal many clubs tried to sign me, but I gave my word to this club.
“This is a good chance to grow many important points here with my knowledge and my experience.”
Who are Al Nassr?
- Formed in 1955, Al Nassr are based in the Saudi capital of Riyadh and play in the country’s top division – the Saudi Professional League (SPL), which has 18 teams
- They finished third last season, six points behind champions Al Hilal
- Al Nassr are the second-most successful team in the league with nine titles. Their last win was in the 2018-19 season. Only Al Hilal, also based in Riyadh, have won more titles (18)
- Al Nassr are coached by Rudi Garcia, who previously managed Lille, Roma, Marseille and Lyon
- Al Nassr are second in the league this season after 10 rounds, two points behind leaders Al Shabab
- They must win the league this season to qualify for the 2023-24 Asian Champions League
Ronaldo, who has a reported salary of over £160m per year, could make his debut on Thursday against Saudi Pro-League side Al Ta’ee or on Saturday against Al Shabab.
Ronaldo added: “I’m a unique player. I beat all the records in Europe. I want to beat a few records here.
“This contract is unique but I’m a unique player, so for me it’s normal. I really don’t worry about what people say. I am really, really happy to be here.
“I know the league is very competitive, I saw many games. I hope to play after (Wednesday) if the coach thinks there’s a chance. I’m ready to keep playing football.”
Ronaldo left Manchester United last month following an explosive television interview in which the forward said he felt betrayed by the Old Trafford club and did not respect their Dutch manager Erik ten Hag.
The Portugal international arrives in Saudi Arabia with a vast collection of club honours after a glittering spell at Real Madrid from 2009-18 where he won two La Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, four Champions League titles and three Club World Cups.
He went on to score a club record 451 times for Real and has more than 800 senior goals overall for club and country.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also claimed two Serie A titles and a Coppa Italia trophy in three years at Juventus before rejoining United with whom he had won three Premier League crowns, the FA Cup, two League Cups, the Champions League and Club World Cup.