There were extraordinary scenes in Madrid last night as 80,000 fans made their way to the Bernabeu Stadium to greet new signing Cristiano Ronaldo.
Having flown in to the Spanish capital earlier in the day to complete his medical at a private hospital, sign his new £200,000 per week contract and meet club president Florentino Perez, Ronaldo eventually made his way in to the stadium at 9.15pm.
With Eusebio and Alfredo di Stefano watching from the stage, Ronaldo, who was wearing personalised Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly football boots and the number 9 shirt, took the adulation of the fans before saying a few words and performing some ball juggling.
“Good evening,” he said “I am going to speak to you like a friend who is very happy to be here. This is the completion of my boyhood dream, to be a Real Madrid player.”
After his presentation to the fans, Ronaldo gave his first press conference as a Madrid player. Asked about his departure from Manchester United and his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson, he said:
It was a happy goodbye. Sir Alex Ferguson knew I always wanted to play for Madrid. I went to Manchester and spoke with him and he was happy. The fans, my team-mates and friends, and Sir Alex understand my decision. This is my dream.
We were joking about me playing against Manchester United in the final at the Bernabeu. He said he would set Patrice Evra against me to kick me out of the game.
When I said I would stay at United in June, it was because there was no reason to believe I wouldn’t. But things change, presidents, people’s opinions, everything. The clubs reached an agreement and now I’m here, and I’m very happy.
The near hysterical scenes at the Bernabeu completed a busy week for the Spanish giants who have also paraded Kaka and Raul Albiol as well as signing Karim Benzema.
President Perez and Madrid’s many fans will hope that its money well spent, particularly after the treble winning season enjoyed by Barcelona only a few months ago.