Former English midfielder Steven Gerrard has lauded Cristiano Ronaldo for joining Saudi Arabia’s professional football league and the impact that it has had on the sport.
Speaking in an interview with the Saudi Pro League, Gerrard termed Ronaldo “one of the best players” to ever play the game and revealed that he was influenced to join the Saudi football league by Ronaldo’s decision to join the Al Nassr club.
“The arrival of ‘The GOAT’ as we call him [Ronaldo], arriving in January obviously [was] a huge signing,” he said.
“He still had a lot of football to offer. So, from afar, for six months, I was looking in at his [Rondalo’s] results, in the league, watching some games and watching some highlights. I think from that moment, the league around the world had become a very popular talking point for everyone. After his [Rondalo’s] arrival, even more, big-name signings, talents and skill sets were joining the league.”
“At the time it coincided with me being out of the game and looking for my next opportunity, so I was fascinated from afar looking in, and when my agent brought a couple of opportunities in the Gulf area at the time, I was fascinated to explore them,” he added.
It is to be noted that Ronaldo signed for Sadi Arabia’s Al Nassr club in a deal believed to be worth more than €200 million in December last year. The 37-year-old penned a contract that will take him to June 2025.
Meanwhile, Gerrard joined Al Ettifaq as a manager in July earlier this year.
“The Ettifaq proposal and opportunity were the most exciting for me because I’ve signed up to a club where the board are very passionate. They understand where the club is at, they understand it’s something that’s going to need building, and it’s going to take time,” Gerrard said while expressing his views on becoming part of the Saudi football setup.
“That’s the reason why I was very interested in analysing this one because in my job you need time. Especially when a club has finished seventh in the league and so many points behind the top four. That’s not an easy fix; it’s not something you fix in a week, a month, or six months,” he added.
“It’s a project to build on the pitch, which is obviously the priority, but also a lot of things needed to change around it to give the first team the support it needs,” he concluded.