'I’m here to stay,' Ronaldo opens up on his future in Saudi league

Portuguese legend recalls experiences in Riyadh

June 01, 2023
Cristiano Ronaldo said the Saudi league is very good and has many competitive teams and many good Arab players but it has to cash in on many opportunities to grow more.
Cristiano Ronaldo said the Saudi league is very good and has many competitive teams and many good Arab players but it has to cash in on many opportunities to grow more.

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Portuguese football legend Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed that he will continue to play for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Professional League next season despite the team's failure to win any titles this season.

In an interview published on Thursday by the Saudi Pro League (SPL), Ronaldo said: “I’m happy here and I want to continue here and I will continue here.”

Cristiano made headlines in January with his move to the Saudi league which has been described as the biggest transfer in the history of the sport. Five months later, Ronaldo ended his first hectic season with no titles for the Riyadh-based Al Nassr, which hugely disappointed his fans.

The club sacked head coach Rudi Garcia in the middle of the season. The president of the club is facing angry fans who are calling for him to resign and other foreign professionals had a bouncy season when it came to their performance.

After being silent for almost the whole season, Ronaldo spoke out his thoughts about the current Saudi season and his future. “My expectations were different when I came here. To be honest, I expect to win something this year but things will not always go the way we want or think," Ronaldo said.

“My team improved a lot during the past five months, and in the whole league all the teams have also improved,” he added.

" Next year I’m really positive and confident that things will change and go in a better way. Let’s believe in that and work on it,” he said in a clear sign that he will continue to remain with Al-Nassr in the upcoming season.

Speaking about the Saudi Pro League, Ronaldo said the league is very good and has many competitive teams and many good Arab players but it has to cash in on many opportunities to grow further. “I think they need to improve the infrastructure, and even the referees and the VAR system can be quicker and I think other small things can be improved. In my opinion, if they — Saudi league officials — continue doing the work they’re planning to do for the next five years this league can be among the top 5 leagues in the world.”

Ronaldo touched on how his teammates felt about his discipline and hard work. “It’s not by coincidence you play for 20 years in such a high level. It’s not like they say genetics but the other factors are important and what you do with your genetics. I think I helped many players on how they see fitness and the way of life to be a professional football player.”

On the challenges he faced in the Saudi league, Ronaldo said: “In Europe, we train in the morning but here we train in the afternoon or during the night; that’s different. During Ramadan, we trained at 10 in the night and it was a strange experience but I like to live these moments. You learn a lot in a different culture.”

The international soccer star lauded the Saudi fans, saying they really love football and love to take it as a part of their life. As many big names are expected to come to the Saudi league during the next season, he welcomed them, saying it will improve the league no matter who comes — big names or young players or even old names.

Describing life in Saudi Arabia, he spoke highly about the Kingdom and its people. “The Saudis live more in the night, and it is fun and interesting. Riyadh is a beautiful city in the night and probably it’s one of the best places where I’ve seen high-quality restaurants.”

Ronaldo continued: "The nicest experience I had here was when I visited Boulevard World with my family. So far living here is a very good experience. My family is happy. Schools for the kids are really good and the country is building a lot for its future. I like to try different things and that’s why I am here. The next trip I want to do is visit AlUla because I know it’s very beautiful."

He thanked all his fans for supporting him every year on the pitch and outside. “I will be here as a part of your culture and I hope I please people with my performance and winning things,” Ronaldo added.

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