RIYADH: Just hours after Cristiano Ronaldo signs two-year contract with Saudi Arabia Al-NasrCrowds flocked to a football gear store in Riyadh to buy the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s new shirt.
Abdulmohsen al-Ayyban, 41, and his nine-year-old son, Nayefwere among those queuing at the club’s official Al Nassr kit store on Saturday, where employees were busy pressing Ronaldo’s name onto t-shirts.
“We are witnessing a historic moment,” al-Ayyban told AFP of the deal which he said “will elevate the Saudi football league”.
Ronaldo signed for Al Nassr on Friday until June 2025 in a deal believed to be worth over 200 million euros.
A wide smile spread across Nayef’s face as he proudly held up his new jersey.
For the young Saudi, a dream has come true.
“I always wanted Al Nassr to acquire the best player in the world,” he said. “I will make sure to watch all of his games at the stadium.”
Ronaldo, 37, is expected to appear in front of fans next Thursday, an Al Nassr club official told AFP.
For Saudi Arabia, Ronaldo is the latest high-priced sporting gem acquired to elevate their international image.
At home, the deal further fueled national fervor which culminated after the kingdom defeated eventual winners Argentina at the start of the 2022 World Cup, a victory hailed as one of the biggest shocks of the game. history of the tournament.
An unprecedented rush to Al Nassr’s kit store began as soon as information about the deal leaked to the local press on Friday evening, hours before the official announcement.
Abdulqader, the store manager, said queues snaked outside the store and have only grown since.
Stocks of the t-shirts have nearly run out, prompting customers to bring their own to have the player’s name printed on them – a process that will take up to two days.
“I have never seen anything like this in my life,” Abdulqader told AFP.
Inside the store, a festive atmosphere reigned, as Lebanese, Egyptian and Chinese nationals bolstered the massive numbers of Saudis hoping to get their Ronaldo merchandise.
“I’ve been a fan of Ronaldo since I was a child and now the Saudi club I support has bought him…my joy is doubled,” said Saudi university student Mohammad al-Johni, wearing the club’s official jersey of Al Nassr. .
“I will be the first person to attend his welcoming ceremony,” the 23-year-old added.
Rakan Mohammada 21-year-old college student, echoed the excitement.
“The deal confirms the club’s value of Al Nassr,” he said. “Enthusiasm and expectations are high.”
On social networks, Al Nassr’s channels have experienced significant growth.
Millions of new users followed the club’s Instagram page, bringing the total to nearly 4 million, from around 800,000 before the announcement.
“The impact of the agreement has already been felt, even before Ronaldo arrived in Saudi Arabia,” Ahmed Al-Zabani, a 19-year-old Saudi university student, told AFP.
“The impact will continue to grow in the days to come.”
Many Saudis took to social media to welcome the move.
“The dream has come true,” reads Instagram from a shop printing Ronaldo t-shirts in the colors of Al Nasser’s team.
Feedback quickly poured in, with customers demanding shirts in their size.
“An image for the history books,” wrote one Saudi user on Twitter, captioning an image of Ronaldo holding up his Al Nasser jersey.
Ronaldo is heading to the Gulf after a year that saw him relegated to the bench for Portugal and cut adrift by Manchester United.
United have parted ways with the Portuguese star after the veteran striker gave an explosive TV interview in which he said he felt ‘betrayed’ by the club and had no respect for the coach Erik ten Hag.
United terminated his contract while Ronaldo was with Portugal at the World Cup.



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