Riyadh, Jan 3 (EFE).- Cristiano Ronaldo said here Tuesday during his presentation as the latest signing of Al-Nassr that he turned down offers from around the world to play for the 18-time Saudi champions.
“Nobody knows this, but I had many opportunities in Europe, Brazil, Australia, America, Portugal, many clubs tried to sign me. I gave my word to this club,” the five-time Ballon d’Or told a press conference in Riyadh.
“I want to give a different vision of this country and football. This is why I took this opportunity,” he said alongside Al-Nassr coach Rudi Garcia and the club’s chairman, Musalli Al-Muammar.
Last Friday’s announcement by Al-Nassr that Ronaldo had signed a two-year deal put an end to weeks of speculation about where the 37-year-old Portuguese striker would end up after a messy parting of the ways with Manchester United.
Ronaldo’s biting criticism of United coach Erik ten Hag and club management in a television interview made his continued presence at Old Trafford untenable and his contract was terminated “by mutual agreement.”
Amid media reports that he stands to earn more than $200 million annually in Riyadh, which would make him the highest-paid soccer player in history, Ronaldo said that the terms of the deal are consistent with his stature in the sport.
“I’m a unique player,” he said. “I beat all the records there (in Europe). I want to beat a few records here. This contract is unique, but I’m a unique player, so for me it’s normal.”
Ronaldo, winner of 34 titles with Man United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal, brushed aside criticism from some quarters for his choice to play in Saudi Arabia, given the country’s record on human rights.
“I really don’t worry about what people say. I am really, really happy to be here. I know the league is very competitive, I saw many games. I’m ready to keep playing football,” CR7 said.
“I’m so proud to make this big decision in my life. In Europe my work is done,” he said. “This is a new challenge.”
Al-Nassr fans packed Mrsool Park to greet the side’s newest member with Portuguese flags and signs reading “Hala (Welcome) Ronaldo.” EFE sa-ar-ijm/dr