Few anticipated Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival in Riyadh, but Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia provided the funds when they were needed to pull off the largest football coup in Gulf history.
The Riyadh team hasn’t had much success internationally despite winning a ton of home championships; their finest years came in Asian and Gulf play in the 1990s.
When Al Nassr, also known as “The International,” won the 1998 Asian Cup Winners Cup, Bulgarian striker Hristo Stoichkov, a former Ballon d’Or winner like Cristiano Ronaldo, scored the game-winning goal.
Al Nassr will now be hoping that Ronaldo, who was unexpectedly signed by the team for an estimated 200 million euros through June 2025, can help them replicate the success of rivals Al Hilal and Al Ittihad in the Asian Champions League.
According to an official who wished to remain anonymous, the club is also considering other high-profile coups, like as the France midfielder N’Golo Kante and the Croatian playmaker Luka Modric of Real Madrid.
“We will celebrate Ronaldo tomorrow and continue to work… towards high-level signings,” he said, adding that Al Nassr is looking to put together the “new galacticos”.
The final great to don the Al Nassr jersey was Stoichkov, who appeared in just two games. Al Nassr was founded in 1955 as an amateur team and has won nine Saudi league championships.
The 37-year-old Ronaldo has reached a new level, winning five Ballons d’Or while winning five European Champions League championships, numerous local championships, a sizeable personal fortune, and millions of devoted admirers.