The Impact of Cristiano Ronaldo on Iran’s Football Enthusiasm

Throngs of Enthusiastic Fans Fill Tehran’s Streets to Greet Portuguese Superstar Ahead of Al-Nassr’s Clash with Persepolis FC

Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival in Iran sparks massive welcome from fans -  YouTube

In Tehran, Iran, it turned into a lively celebration as football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and his Saudi Arabian club, Al-Nassr, arrived from Riyadh, effectively bringing the city to a standstill.

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Thousands of fans flooded the streets to greet the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who was making his first visit to Iran for an AFC Champions League match against Persepolis FC.

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Upon their arrival at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, Ronaldo and his Al-Nassr teammates were warmly received by legendary Iranian footballer and coach Ali Daei, whose record of 109 international goals in 149 appearances was surpassed by the Portuguese captain in 2021.

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As the Al-Nassr convoy made its way from the airport to the Espinas Hotel in northern Tehran, swarms of fans chanted Ronaldo’s name and pursued his bus in hopes of catching a glimpse of the superstar.

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“It was a truly remarkable spectacle,” said Mehrdad Hashemi, a football fan and Persepolis supporter. “I’ve never witnessed such an enthusiastic welcome for any foreign celebrity in Iran.”

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Tehran’s municipal authorities erected large banners along the route to the hotel, welcoming Ronaldo and his team in Persian, English, and Arabic—a privilege typically reserved for foreign heads of state.

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Many fans sporting Al-Nassr jerseys journeyed from distant cities and provinces, with some even willing to pay hefty sums for rooms at the super-luxurious hotel where Ronaldo and his teammates were staying, all in the hope of encountering the football star.

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“I don’t earn that much, but I was still willing to book a room there just to meet my favorite footballer. Unfortunately, there were no rooms available,” lamented Ahmed, an ardent football fan and software engineer.

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Despite stringent security measures, numerous fans managed to enter the hotel’s lobby, while others hiked up the surrounding hills in hopes of getting closer to the action.

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A handful of fortunate individuals had the opportunity to meet the football icon. Among them was 5-year-old Adrian, who was seen in a crowd outside the hotel wearing an Al-Nassr jersey. A video captured him in tears because he was unable to meet Ronaldo. The Saudi club officials noticed the video and arranged for Adrian to meet Ronaldo.

Ronaldo helps Al Nassr win historic Asian Champions League match in Iran -  News | Khaleej Times

The heartwarming encounter, caught on camera, featured the young boy receiving a warm embrace from the Portuguese star and being gifted a signed jersey after performing Ronaldo’s signature “Siu” celebration.

Ronaldo Celebrates with Al Nassr Historic Asia Cup Win in Iran

Another fan who had the privilege of meeting Ronaldo was Fatemeh Hammami, a 34-year-old artist with severe paralysis. Despite her physical challenges, Hammami had gained international recognition for her portraits of celebrities, including Ronaldo, which she created using her feet.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins more hearts in Iran - Tehran Times

When she learned that Ronaldo would be in town, she posted a portrait of him on her Instagram page, which boasts over 216,000 followers, and expressed her desire for a meeting.

Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo's touching moment with Iranian artist Fatemeh who  paints with her feet - News | Khaleej Times

“Ronaldo is in Iran! God, I ask you to please make my wish come true. To see Ronaldo and present him with my painting of him. Oh, please, God, make a way for it to happen. I only have you,” wrote Hammami. Her wish came true when she found herself at the hotel where Ronaldo was staying, thanks to the coordination between the home team and Al-Nassr officials. As Ronaldo walked into the room and saw Hammami with two portraits of him, he embraced her and praised her artistic talent.

Cristiano Ronaldo accueilli par les autorités iraniennes.

Hammami, in turn, gifted the two paintings to Ronaldo, and he presented her with a signed Al-Nassr shirt. Overjoyed, the gifted artist took to Instagram once more to share her happiness: “My meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo. God, thank you for making my dream come true.”

Iranian soccer fans delight as Ronaldo's Saudi team arrives in Tehran | The  Times of Israel

The Al-Nassr-Persepolis match took place several months after Iran and Saudi Arabia announced the normalization of diplomatic relations following seven years of tensions. This event served as a confidence-building measure of sorts. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman also expressed his appreciation for the warm reception that Al-Nassr received in Iran.

Cristiano Ronaldo in Iran-রোনাল্ডো জ্বরে কাঁপছে ইরান! বাতিল CR7-দের অনুশীলন  - Cristiano Ronaldo in Iran-Iran is shaking with Ronaldo fever! Cancel  CR7's exercise - ছবিঘর নিউজ

However, the match was not without controversy. It was held behind closed doors at the 78,000-seat Azadi Stadium because the home team faced a penalty from the Asian Football Confederation, depriving fans of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch the iconic footballer in action.

Fans flock the streets of Iran to catch a glimpse of Cristiano Ronaldo

Persepolis FC, a top-tier Iranian football club, was serving a one-match stadium ban due to a contentious social media post from the 2021-22 season during their AFC Champions League matches against Indian club FC Goa. The Indian side had lodged a complaint, labeling the post as offensive.

Al Nassr win on Ronaldo's ACL debut

“It was certainly disappointing because we don’t often have the chance to see superstar footballers like Ronaldo playing in Iran. I’m not sure if we’ll witness such a spectacle again in the near future,” remarked Arya Rajabi, a football fan from Tehran.

Iranian soccer fans flock to Cristiano Ronaldo's hotel after he arrives in  Tehran with Saudi team | AP News

Additionally, Reza Darvish, the head of Persepolis FC, found himself in an uncomfortable position after gifting Ronaldo two expensive handwoven Persian carpets.

Iranian soccer fans give Ronaldo rapturous welcome in Tehran - GulfToday

Darvish, who has faced criticism for delaying player payments, defended himself by stating that the carpets were presented to the Portuguese footballer on behalf of a prominent Iranian carpet-seller and were not purchased using the team’s funds.

CĐV Iran phát cuồng khi chào đón Ronaldo - VnExpress Thể thao

There were also reports that Ronaldo and Al-Nassr players were provided with special SIM cards during their stay in the Iranian capital, granting them unrestricted Internet access without filters. Some individuals were displeased with this decision and called for similar “privileges” for ordinary Iranians.

Cristiano Ronaldo - Latest News, Views, Reviews, Updates, Photos, Videos on  Cristiano Ronaldo - Arabian Business

After a resounding 2-0 victory, Ronaldo took to social media to express his gratitude for Iran’s hospitality. “Great to get the win today,” he wrote. “A very special thank you to the fans and to all the Iranian people who have made this visit so special for us. Such an incredibly warm welcome!”

Cristiano Ronaldo receives huge welcome from fans in Iran ahead of ACL clash

WATCH: Cristiano Ronaldo makes young fan's day ahead of Al-Nassr's AFC  Champions League clash with Persepolis | English Bahrain