Cristiano Ronaldo was paraded by new club Al Nassr in Riyadh this evening. The Portugal captain, who has signed a deal until 2024, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday ahead of being presented to the fans at the club’s Mrsool Park.
Speaking at his press conference in the afternoon, Ronaldo spoke of helping to grow football on and off the pitch in Saudi Arabia. The former Sporting man believes his time in Europe is over, while revealing he turned down offers from across the world in order to join Al Nassr.
“I feel very good,” Ronaldo said when welcomed to the club. “I’m so proud to make this big decision in my life, in football. In Europe, my work is done. I won everything, I played for the most important clubs in Europe. And for me now is a new challenge in Asia. I’m grateful that Al Nassr gave me this opportunity to help develop, not only for [current] football but for the younger generation, the generation of women. For me it’s a challenge, but in the same way I feel very happy and very proud.
“I can say now I had many opportunities in Europe, many clubs in Brazil, in Australia, in the US, even in Portugal. Many clubs tried to sign me but I gave my word to this club to develop not only the football, but other parts of this amazing country. For me it’s a good challenge. I know what I want and I know of course what I don’t want as well. So it’s a good chance for me to help with my knowledge and my experience, to grow many important points.
“Many people don’t know that Al Nassr has a women’s team as well. And I want to give a different vision of the country, of the football, the perspective of everybody. This is why I took this opportunity.
The transfer has inevitably drawn some skeptical coverage, with many referencing the extraordinary financial terms involved. Ronaldo will reportedly earn over €3m per week for the next two-and-a-half years, making him the best paid player in the sport by a considerable distance.
“Many people speak and give their opinions, but don’t know anything about football,” Ronaldo said. “Over the last 10-15 years the teams [in Saudi Arabia] are different. They are more prepared, they are ready. At the World Cup, the only team who won against the champions was Saudi Arabia. Don’t forget that. There were many surprised. Football has evolved differently. It’s not the end of my career to come to Saudi Arabia. I’m ready to enjoy still playing football and enjoy the people.
“I’m a unique player. I beat all the records there [in Europe] so I want to beat a few records here as all. This contract is unique, because I’m a unique player. So for me it’s normal.”
By Sean Gillen