Cristiano Ronaldo’s new membership coach Rudi Garcia has in contrast the Portuguese star’s arrival at Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia to Pele’s signing with the New York Cosmos in 1975.
“It’s a bit like Pele’s arrival (in what was then the North American Soccer League),” Garcia mentioned.
“Especially for the event of soccer, sport and tradition in Saudi Arabia.”
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At 34, Pele got here out of partial retirement to spark an explosion of curiosity in soccer within the United States. Ronaldo, at 37, is popping out of a bitter divorce with Manchester United.
“It’s nice. Great for us, for Al-Nassr. Great for Saudi Arabia,” he mentioned.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is greater than a participant. He is among the greatest gamers on the planet.”
Garcia was talking on a go to to the Riyadh bivouac of the Dakar Rally which is being held in Saudi Arabia and, like Ronaldo’s high-priced signing, has drawn criticism that the nation’s leaders are “sportswashing”, or attempting to deflect consideration from the dominion’s human rights document.
“For the event of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, it is vitally, essential,” Garcia mentioned.
“If at the moment the Dakar is right here, it brings residence that in sports activities and cultural growth a rustic can do rather a lot.”
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The Frenchman additionally highlighted the numerous impression Ronaldo’s signing has already had off-field for Al-Nassr, significantly on social media.
“It’s superb how a lot it’s put a highlight on our membership. Now everybody is aware of the place our membership is around the globe,” he mentioned.
“We should have gone from 800,000 (followers) to 10 million in just a few hours, just a few days, due to Cristiano’s arrival.”
Ronaldo signed a contract till 2025 with the Saudi membership in a deal value a reported 200 million euros.
Garcia mentioned he was delighted along with his new star.
“The best champions are the best to handle,” he mentioned.
“He blended in with the squad. We noticed him joking and laughing with pleasure along with his new teammates. He was with us for the final recreation, even when he couldn’t play. He was within the locker room, driving his bike.”
Garcia mentioned the membership was respecting Ronaldo’s suspension for an incident with a fan on the finish of his time within the Premier League and wouldn’t choose him for his or her subsequent match, a top-of-the desk encounter with Al-Shabab.
Instead, the previous supervisor of two of PSG’s nice rivals Marseille and Lyon mentioned Ronaldo’s first Saudi look “is not going to be in a Al-Nassr jersey” however in a joint Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr crew attributable to face Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain, and probably Lionel Messi, in an exhibition recreation scheduled for January 19.
“As coach of Al-Nassr, I can’t be pleased with this match,” he mentioned.
“We have a league recreation three days later.”
The 58-year-old mentioned his first goal was to make his new star striker glad.
“The solely factor I want for Ronaldo is that he finds the pleasure of enjoying and smiles once more,” he mentioned.
“These final months between Manchester, the nationwide crew after which on the non-public stage he has not had any straightforward moments. If he finds the pleasure of enjoying it is going to be a purpose already achieved.”
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