Cristiano Ronaldo said he turned down offers from clubs in Europe, Brazil, Australia, and the US to join Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, where he hopes to use his experience to develop the sport in the country.
“In Europe, my work is done,” he said during a press conference at the Mrsool Park Stadium in Riyadh on Tuesday evening.
“I played the most important clubs in Europe, and for me now it’s a new challenge in Asia.”
He hopes to make the first appearance for his new club on Thursday when they face off against Hail’s Al Ta’ee.
The Portuguese superstar made his first appearance in front of Saudi fans at the Mrsool Park stadium in Riyadh.
The 25,000 capacity venue was full to the brim and fans gave their new striker an ecstatic welcome, with flares lit across the stands and roars of his signature ‘si’ celebration oscillating throughout the arena.
Ronaldo added that he wants to use his position to inspire the young generation, and further the development of women’s football.
“I want to give a different vision of the country, of the football, the perspective of everybody.”
He addressed criticism that he was joining a league where he would face little competition.
“I know the league is very competitive. People don’t know that but I know because I saw many games.”
Ronaldo signed with the Riyadh-based club for a sum that media reports have estimated reached the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Speaking at the press conference, club president Musalli al-Muammar dismissed the reported figures as “inaccurate,” but added that Ronaldo “deserves” a large payout.
The striker left previous club Manchester United in November after an explosive interview in which he criticized the club, saying that he felt “betrayed” by the club.
He first played for the British team from 2003 to 2009, and rejoined in 2021 to much jubilation.
But in the interview in November, he said that Manchester United had not made progress since his last tenure with them which ended in 2009.
After Portugal’s lackluster performance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in which the team was knocked out in the quarter-finals by Morocco, and Ronaldo spent much of the time on the bench, the top player signed with the Saudi club.
“I’m coming here to win, to play to enjoy, to be part of the success of the country and the culture of the country,” he said.