Crowds of Iranian football fans gave Cristiano Ronaldo a rapturous welcome on Monday as his Saudi team arrived in Tehran for the first home-and-away club tie since the two countries resumed diplomatic relations.
Fans chanted the name of the Portuguese five-time world player of the year as he arrived with his Al Nassr teammates to face Iranian club Persepolis in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday.
The match will be the first since Tehran and Riyadh reached a China-brokered deal announced in March.
هي أشيـاء لا تُشتـرى 💛
— نادي النصر السعودي (@AlNassrFC) September 18, 2023
Teams from both countries had only played matches on neutral grounds since 2016 when Saudi Arabia and Iran severed ties.
In Tehran, excitement filled the air as fans eagerly waited to catch a glimpse of Ronaldo as he left Iran’s Imam Khomeini’s airport.
Iranian fans in large numbers doing Cristiano Ronaldo's Sui celebration. 😍pic.twitter.com/lT4mZjGI6v
— The CR7 Timeline. (@TimelineCR7) September 18, 2023
Large crowds of cheering fans lined the streets as Ronaldo and his team arrived at a hotel in Tehran on board a bus.
Others chanting “Ronaldo, Ronaldo!” even flooded into the hotel lobby.
Posters of Ronaldo sprung up across the Iranian capital’s main streets emblazoned with “Welcome”, written in Arabic, English, and Farsi.