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04th Jan 2023

‘Don’t forget that’ – Cristiano Ronaldo eager to remind us all after his Al-Nassr unveiling

Patrick McCarry

‘Frankly speaking… ‘

The words “frankly speaking” were just about the only frank words uttered in a bizarre and fawning dazzle-fest for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Al-Nassr is the new home of one of world football’s greatest ever players, and just about every stop was pulled out to make the 37-year-old feel welcome.

The Saudi club staged a bombastic unveiling for the Portuguese star after his arrival on a multi-million euro free agent deal. He was released seven months early from his Manchester United contract after having a very public falling out with manager Erik ten Hag and others at the club.

The press conference was very much a staged PR job, with a long and gushing introduction and one question that included the observation that he had “conquered Europe”. Basking in the opulence of it all, Ronaldo declared:

“I won everything, I played at the most important clubs and for me now it is a new challenge in Asia. I’m a unique player, I beat all the records there [Europe], so I want to beat a few here. This contract is unique, because I’m unique, so this is normal.”

The introductory part of the press conference featured six questions and Ronaldo’s answers were met, by the host, with remarks like, ‘Great’, ‘Amazing’ and ‘Incredible’.

There was one tricky part, when outside criticism of Ronaldo moving to Saudi Arabia was mentioned. International football’s record goalscorer was ready and waiting for that one. He had a zinging response primed.

Cristiano Ronaldo

‘Don’t forget that’ – Cristiano Ronaldo

During his introductory press conference, Cristiano Ronaldo was asked to expand on the notion that Saudi Arabia doing better than many expected in the World Cup had helped convince him to move to Al-Nassr.

“Many people speak,” Ronaldo began, “and give you their opinions, but they really don’t know nothing about football.

“As you know with football now, the teams are all very different than over the last 15 years. All the teams are more prepared and ready.

“You give the example of the World Cup – the only team that beat the champions [Argentina] was Saudi Arabia. Don’t forget that!

“And you had many surprises. South Korea, the Africans teams and Costa Rica, for example, they did a really good job. It’s not easy to win any games today because the teams are prepared and the evolution of teams is different.”

Ronaldo’s response, which felt pre-prepared, included him stressing that the Saudi Pro League is highly competitive.

“I beat all the records in Europe so I want to be a few records here,” he added. That claim was met by a loud round of applause, including from many in the media seats.

There was even a bizarre moment when a few voices at the back of the press room urged Ronaldo to give everyone a ‘SIUUUU’. Thankfully, he declined.

Al-Nassr are currently top of the SPL standings and face Al Ta’ee on Thursday.

Cristiano Ronaldo joked that he has already told his new manager, Rudi Garcia that he is ready to play.

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