Cristiano Ronaldo has been unveiled as Real Madrid’s new number nine, in front of thousands of passionate fans at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, after his world record $130 (94m euros) move from Manchester United.
“I have made my childhood dream a reality — to play for Real Madrid,” Portuguese winger Ronaldo told the packed stands. “I am just so happy to be here,” he said to a rapturous reception from the gathered thousands. “I really didn’t expect a jam-packed stadium — this is truly impressive.” In scenes even more impressive than Brazilian Kaka’s recent unveiling at the same stadium, Ronaldo then led the supporters in a chant, in praise of the club. Ronaldo’s unveiling, after those of Brazilian playmaker Kaka and defender Raul Albiol, will be followed by the arrival of French striker Karim Benzema from Lyon on Thursday as new club president Florentino Perez assembles a second wave of “Galacticos” following the success of big-names like David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane during Perez’s first stint as president. Benzema’s transfer fee is reported to be in the region of $60 million, taking Madrid’s spending to an astonishing $300 million this summer. Perez claimed Monday’s events “might not have a precedent”. “We are very satisfied to know that you made the firm decision to play for Real Madrid,” Perez said. He told Ronaldo what to expect from his new adoring fans, adding: “They will ask of you the very best, but will also give you their all.”
The 20 most wanted players
The return of the ‘Galacticos’
Most memorable Ronaldo moments
Kaka unveiled as Madrid’s No.8
The attendance at the Bernabeu swamped the estimated 55,000 that watched Kaka’s unveiling last Tuesday, and is believed to be the biggest turn-out for a presentation since a reported 75,000 saw the arrival of Diego Maradona at Napoli from Barcelona in 1984. Earlier, Ronaldo, the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year, successfully completed his medical with Madrid after landing in the Spanish capital just after midday. Carlos Diez, Real Madrid’s medical chief, told www.realmadrid.com: “(Ronaldo) is in perfect condition and very eager to start the season as soon as possible.” Ronaldo had already undergone initial medical tests with the Spanish giants while on holiday in Portugal last month, which the player claimed at the time had gone “perfectly”. Diez added: “He has an extraordinary cardiac and lung capacity. We have complemented everything that we already did in Portugal and done all the specific tests.
“Now we will be able to start working using an individual plan in order to improve his performance. For him (Ronaldo), it’s a dream, and this dream starts to convert into reality from now.” The number nine jersey was recently vacated by Argentine striker Javier Saviola who joined Portuguese side Benfica last month.