Monday, February 6, 2023

Ronaldo aims to change perceptions of Saudi Arabian football following Al Nassr move

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 Jan 2023

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Cristiano Ronaldo vowed to change the rest of the world’s perception of football in Saudi Arabia as he was formally unveiled as an Al Nassr player.

Ronaldo signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Saudi Pro League leaders Al Nassr last week, having spent over a month as a free agent after leaving Manchester United.

At his unveiling in Riyadh on Tuesday, Ronaldo declared he had nothing left to prove in Europe and insisted the move did not represent the end of his distinguished career.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner may well have appeared in the Champions League for the final time, but he claims to have a fresh set of aims in Saudi Arabia – including contributing to the development of women’s football in the country.

“It’s a new challenge and I’m so glad that Al Nassr has given me this opportunity to develop, not only in football, but also for the young generations, and for women as well,” said Ronaldo.

“Many people probably don’t know, but Al Nassr has a women’s football team as well. Women’s football is very competitive here.

“I know what I want, and I know, of course, what I don’t want as well. It’s a good chance to change, to help with my knowledge and my experience to grow many, many important things.

“I want to give a different vision of the country from the footballing perspective of everybody. This is why I took this opportunity.”

While Ronaldo – who could make his Al Nassr debut against Al Ta’ee on Thursday – will undoubtedly be the most high-profile star to have featured in the Saudi Pro League, club president Musalli Al-Muammar insists he will be treated differently to other players.

“During the negotiations, Cristiano made it clear that he wants to be treated like the rest of our players,” he said. “He doesn’t want special treatment.

“Ronaldo is the greatest player ever. We hope players learn from him and replicate his attitude.”

Head coach Rudi Garcia, meanwhile, is not expecting any issues as he integrates Ronaldo into his squad.

“Ronaldo is one of the best ever. It’s an honour for me and for Al Nassr to have him here,” Garcia said.

“It’s fantastic for the league and for the country to have Ronaldo here.

“He will be the easiest player to train. There’s nothing to teach him. My goal is to make Ronaldo happy.”

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