It has actually happened. Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer a Real Madrid player. After nine years, the five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or and its variants has called time on his stint with the Spanish giant, transferring to Serie A holder Juventus for a reported fee of around $117 million.
Ronaldo departs Spain with four Champions League titles to add to the one he won at Manchester United, and as Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer, having scored a mind-boggling 451 goals in 438 games. The move also brings his direct rivalry — one of the most spectacular in sport — with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to a de facto close.
Last night, Ronaldo was presented by Juve to the Italian media for the first time in what was a fairly low-key affair, at least compared with the Portuguese’s previous unveiling in Madrid. Back then, CR7-mania gripped the Spanish capital, with 80,000 fans turning up to greet their new idol at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. This time, only a small number of Bianconeri fans braved the Turin rain to greet their latest signing.
Still, small turnout or not, Juve fans are evidently excited about the deal, with the club having shifted a rumored $60 million worth of replica jerseys so far. Ronaldo, his ambition undimmed at 33, appears to have embraced his latest challenge and was in bullish form at the press conference, talking up his new team’s chances of finally winning the Champions League title that has eluded the club since 1996.
Intriguingly, he also admitted that Juve was the only club interested in signing him, meaning that, despite persistent rumors, a reunion with former employer Manchester United was never likely. Ronaldo also confirmed he would not be retiring from international football just yet.
Find some of the juiciest tidbits from the unveiling below.
Ronaldo on joining Juventus
“I want to leave my mark on the history of Juventus. This is one of the best teams in the world and I’ve had my mind set on coming here for a little while. They have a great president, a great manager.”
Ronaldo on his rivalry with Messi drawing to a close
“I do not see other players as rivals, that’s not who I am. It was a good challenge with Messi. All of you liked it and it was interesting. But I never saw it as a rivalry. You always want to give it your all for your team.”
Ronaldo on how he’s different from other players
“This is a big club. And usually players of my age go to Qatar or to China, with all due respect, so coming to such an important and outstanding club at this point in my career makes me very happy. I’m very grateful to Juventus for this opportunity.”
Ronaldo on that Real Madrid goal he scored against Juventus
“It was a really stunning moment for me. Being welcomed this way is so rewarding. It increases your motivation to start a new adventure. I’m really grateful to these supporters for the way they welcomed me. I hope I can reward them when I play for them. Thanks to all the fans at the airport and here to welcome me.”
In other football news, here are the best memes from this year’s World Cup.