Ronaldo’s Saudi Arabia life shows Messi what he can expect


Cristiano Ronaldo has been banging in the goals during his expensive stay in Riyadh with Al-Nassr, and enjoying the lap of luxury in the Four Seasons Hotel’s Kingdom Suite

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Ronaldo receives rapturous welcome from Al Nassr fans

Cristiano Ronaldo’s spell in Saudi Arabia is off to a fantastic start, with the legendary former Manchester United ace bagging eight goals and two assists within a month.

After controversially leaving the Premier League, Ronaldo opted to follow the money and take a whopping £175million-a-year deal to join Saudi club Al-Nassr. He made his debut on January 22 and has helped get the club to the top of the Saudi Pro League with a slew of goals, including consecutive hat-tricks.

And it appears that the football icon has been embraced by the people of Riyadh, where Al-Nassr play their games. During a recent trip to the Saudi capital, Mirror Sport encountered a number of locals who appeared enamoured with yet another big-time player to commit himself to the Middle East.

He and long-time girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez arrived in January and immediately set up shop in the lap of luxury at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he has been living in the Kingdom Suite. The plush 99-story hotel was also home to Jake Paul when he was in the Kingdom for a boxing match with Tommy Fury on the weekend of our visit, with Ronaldo staying in their most luxurious suite.

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We visited the hotel to speak with Paul, who was excited about the prospect of such an iconic athlete coming to see him fight. The suites can only be accessed through particular elevators, and it’s likely that Ronaldo spent little to no time in the plush surroundings of the lobby or the next door mall before his recent departure for a new family home.

It was at the fight that we caught a glimpse of Ronaldo himself, secluded in a premium hospitality box where he was away from the carnage of ringside. His reaction, or lack thereof, to Fury’s victory went viral on social media, and it’s worth noting that his expressionless gaze was evident from when he arrived through a special entrance to when he left.

Before the fighters had left the ring, Ronaldo was gone, likely concerned about the next day’s training with the fight not ending until around 2am local time. He was one of many celebrities that attended the show, including Kevin Hart and Mike Tyson as well as Tommy Fury’s brother, world heavyweight champion Tyson.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been loving life in Saudi Arabia (


Getty Images)

There are a number of exceptional circumstances about their situation. Aside from their undoubtedly plush living quarters, they live a very different lifestyle to most locals or even well-to-do visitors. For example, a few weeks prior, Rodriguez angered locals when she went to get some essentials in a pharmacy, leading the store to be shut for hours.

And while the football legend owns more than 20 luxury cars around the world, the likelihood that you’ll see him behind the wheel in Saudi is slim. The roads are chaotic, with accidents still frequent even though the use of indicators becoming mandatory in 2020 has managed to slow them down.

Ronaldo and his family share images from a theme Park in Saudi Arabia. (


@georginagio/Instagram) Cristiano Ronaldo looks at Georgina Rodriguez as they attend his official unveiling at Al Nassr (


Amr Nabil/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

There’s an image of Saudi Arabia depicted in the west that is not exactly the experience we had during our week-long stay in the capital city. The most notable example is the treatment of women, which is often believed to be archaic in the Kingdom, although in our and other visitors’ experiences, that isn’t something you necessarily see.

And while it may seem comical during international showcases such as last weekend’s boxing or the frequent Formula 1 and WWE events that the Kingdom is constantly being thanked, it appears to be public sentiment with locals that the country needs such good press.

We met one taxi driver – a young, working class nursing student named Saeed – who upon learning of our trip pleaded that we write about the recent improvements in the country. Expats who we spoke to gushed over their lifestyles, both male and female, and were frustrated by their families’ dated views of the country from home in the United Kingdom.

A fan carries a poster asking for the jersey of Cristiano Ronaldo (


AFP via Getty Images)

Have you been following Cristiano Ronaldo’s career in Saudi Arabia? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Weather in Riyadh during February is still scorching hot during the day, reaching highs of 30 degrees during our stay. But during the evenings, the breeze leaves it surprisingly cool, with one colleague warning us to bring a jacket after arriving in a night early.

In the capital city, there is a rivalry that one fan brands “our own El Clasico” between Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal. It appears that Al-Hilal are the club more popular with locals; we didn’t meet anyone who prefers Al-Nassr, although a number of fair-weather fans switched sides when Ronaldo joined.

And local supporters are confident that when Paris Saint-Germain’s season ends in France, that they will be able to land a deal to bring Lionel Messi to the Kingdom, which would mimic the old Real Madrid versus Barcelona rivalry. It is expected that the Argentine legend would cost a similar pretty penny to the hundreds of millions that are being stumped up for Ronaldo.

Ultimately, it appears that all of the infrastructure is in place for Ronaldo and his family to have a very good life in Riyadh over the next two-and-a-half years. Already, his much-feted arrival is being felt.


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