As an eighth wonder of the world, something supernatural on Saudi soil – this is how Cristiano Ronaldo (37) was welcomed today at his new club Al Nassr. In his press conference, the Portuguese superstar also emphasized the role of women and expressed his desire to develop his new homeland both inside and outside the lines. “My contract is unique, but I am also a unique player.”

    Mrsool Park, a stadium that can accommodate 25,000 people, is packed to the brim. Light shows, fireworks shows, a singer, yellow shirts everywhere with Ronaldo and number 7 on the back. Then he gets out of a super deluxe car. Three piece suit, blue tie. Cheers rise from Mrsool Park, which can watch Ronaldo’s every step live on the screens.

    He’s there, really. It may reportedly cost a million or 200 a year, but then you have a football legend with an unimaginable appeal. Trainer Rudi Garcia laughs when he looks into the packed room during his press conference: this is a bit different than the ‘three or four’ that normally sit there after an Al Nassr match. “Let this be like this every game!”

    Ronaldo is being interviewed by a woman. Those present in the room will not be given the opportunity to ask a question. Women: strangely enough already a theme at this press conference in a country that has nothing to do with equal rights for men and women.

    Cristiano Ronaldo © REUTERS

    Ronaldo wants to ‘inspire new generations, men and women’. “I want to help the country with the development of football and things outside the lines, with my knowledge and experience. Also for women. What many people don’t know is that Al Nassr has a women’s soccer team. I took this opportunity to show a different image of this great country and football.”

    For Ronaldo, his ‘work in Europe is done’. ,,I won everything, played for the most important clubs. I was able to sign in Brazil, Australia and America and clubs from Portugal have also tried to get me. But, I had already given my word to this club.” A little later: ,,I broke all records in Europe and I plan to do the same with a few records here. My contract is unique, but I am also a unique player. So this is normal.”

    Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at his presentation.

    Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at his presentation. © REUTERS

    With a straight face, Ronaldo claimed that his move to Al Nassr is also a sporting challenge. ,,I know the competition is very challenging, a lot of people don’t know that. I do, because I’ve seen a lot of matches. So I would like to play and I hope tomorrow, if the trainer thinks that is a good idea.”

    He has certainly not forgotten the unlimited self-confidence that he always exuded in Europe. And will presumably reach new heights in Saudi Arabia. Because the audience regularly hears applause or his trademark, the jubilant shout ‘siuuu’, is imitated. And that is nothing compared to half an hour after his press conference, when he has just shaken hands with his teammates and enters Mrsool Park in his uniform. Incessantly it sounds ‘Ronaldo’ and ‘siuuu’. Indeed, as if the eighth wonder of the world has just happened.

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