Only hours after Cristiano Ronaldo penned a two-year contract with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr, crowds flocked to a football kit store in Riyadh to buy the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s new club jersey.
Abdulmohsen al-Ayyban, 41, and his nine-year old son, Nayef, were among those queueing at Al Nassr club’s official kit store on Saturday where clerks where busy pressing Ronaldo’s name onto t-shirts.
“We are witnessing a historic moment,” al-Ayyban told AFP of the deal which he believes “will elevate the Saudi football league”.
Ronaldo on Friday signed for Al Nassr until June 2025 in a deal believed to be worth more than 200 million euros.
A wide smile stretched across Nayef’s face as he proudly held his new jersey aloft.
For the young Saudi, a dream has come true. “I have always wanted Al Nassr to acquire the best player in the world,” he said. “I will make sure to watch all his games at the stadium.”
Ronaldo, 37, is expected to appear before fans next Thursday, an official from the Al Nassr club told AFP. For Saudi Arabia, Ronaldo is the latest high-priced sporting jewel acquired to add lustre to their international image.
At home, the deal further fuelled national fervour that spiked after the kingdom defeated eventual winners Argentina in the early stages of the 2022 World Cup, a victory hailed as one of greatest shocks in the tournament’s history.
An unprecedented rush at the Al Nassr kit store started as soon as reports of the deal were leaked to the local press on Friday night — hours before the official announcement.
Abdulqader, the store manager said queues snaked all the way outside the shop and have only grown since.
T-shirt stocks have nearly emptied, pushing cus-tomers to bring in their own to have the player’s name printed on them — a process which will take up to two days.—AFP