On Monday, Al-Nassr’s captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, was warmly welcomed during his visit to Iran, marking the first time a Saudi team had visited Iran since 2016. This visit occurred just before the start of the group stage of the Asian Champions League.
In Group E, Al-Nassr was scheduled to face the Iranian team Persepolis on Tuesday, while Qatar’s Al-Duhail was set to play against Tajikistan’s Istiklol Dushanbe.
The streets were filled with fans who enthusiastically greeted the Saudi Arabian team upon their arrival in Iran, displaying welcome banners and images of Ronaldo. This warm reception followed the recent restoration of relations between the two countries.
Ronaldo in Iran… crazy! pic.twitter.com/06epMaCuf1
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 18, 2023
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had announced that matches between Saudi and Iranian teams would be played on a home-and-away basis following an agreement between the two local federations. Since 2016, matches had been held on neutral ground due to strained diplomatic relations that prevented Saudi nationals from traveling to Iran.
Despite security efforts to prevent it, supporters even invaded the team’s hotel. Chants of Ronaldo’s name echoed through the crowd, and both children and women proudly displayed pictures of the Portuguese captain.
Indian cricketer Mohammed Siraj hit the Cristiano Ronaldo celebration during the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka 🐐🔥 pic.twitter.com/HQ16FcCCGW
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 18, 2023
Al-Nassr shared several photos of Ronaldo receiving a luxurious hand-made Iranian carpet as a token of appreciation from Persepolis supporters. The fans expressed their warm welcome in a message, saying, “Mr. Cristiano Ronaldo, welcome to Iran. A token of appreciation, an original hand-woven piece of art made by Iranian artists to commemorate your presence in Iran, on behalf of Persepolis’s fans.”
Children donned Al-Nassr and Portugal shirts with Ronaldo’s name and number, while some fans even reenacted the famous celebration of the former Real Madrid player.
The Saudi Pro League has increasingly become an attractive destination for Europe-based players since Ronaldo’s move to Al-Nassr in January.