Christian FC

“My children were Real Madrid, after Juve, later United and now they are from Al Nassr. I don’t win for t-shirts.” The sweet complaints belong to Fernando, a Portuguese from Lisbon who has gone down to the Algarve for a few days to give Antonio and Miguel, their offspring, the pleasure of seeing their idol in situ. The boys wear the yellow and blue elastic of their new Saudi passion this afternoon, just like no less than 150 other kids (and some older ones) at the Algarve stadium, in Loulé, before Cristiano Ronaldo jumps in first to warm up and then to play against Celta de Vigo in the third of Al Nassr’s friendlies in this Portuguese concentration. Cris was on vacation until last week and he (because that is how a contract also obliges) is the first duel that the Portuguese star will play this summer in his country.

Around 8,000 people occupy the stands of the venue, with capacity for almost 30,000, and the vast majority of them they do it simply to see again live the one who is still the greatest soccer idol in Portugal, even though he has gone to play 5,000 kilometers away and in a (less and less) secondary championship. But there are not only compatriots: the Germans Susanna and Hugo have approached from Sagres, more than 100 kilometers away, where they spend their holidays Lito and Sonia arrived from Italy and also bought a ticket because of their admiration for Funchal. And no less than 150 Spaniards, most of them nostalgic madridistas, They have decided to cross the border to remember the one who follows and will continue to be one of their favorite footballers.

The characteristic ‘siuuuuuu’ have been echoing in the stadium for an hour and a half before the game and they don’t stop ringing with the ball in play, while Cristiano is applauded to rage every time he touches the ball. The rest of the time people are almost silent: they listen, in fact, instructions from the coaches and footballers. Hugo Sotelo, one of the kids from the sky-blue quarry that Rafa Benítez has brought onto the field, makes a small foul on CR7 and the fans protest angrily. Hugo doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into. Neither Iván Villar, goalkeeper of Celta, when in a clearance attempt he lightly hits Cristiano’s head in the first great scoring opportunity for the Portuguese and also of the game.

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The stadium is full with Al Nassr. Iago Aspas sends a Vaseline to the post and the fans celebrate with undisguised emotion. The stadium belongs to Cristiano. The Croatian Brozovic, also signed with the help of a checkbook, enables Talisca in front of the Celtic goal but people are much less perturbed than when the Madeiran hits a harmless half pass with the outside in midfield. Those people who go crazy, and even applaud, when CR7 fails what until recently seemed impossible to see him fail: a headed goal from point-blank range, with all the goal for him. “Cris-tiano Ronaaaldo, Cris-tiano Ronaaaldo”, sounds spontaneously to the sound of those chords so soccer, so European and World Cup, the Seven Nation Army composed by the Americans The White Stripes.

CR7 has barely spent five training sessions since joining the Algarve squad and Luis Castro, his coach, decides to relieve him at halftime. There are not a few boys who leave the stadium angrily, many of them to wait for the star at the exit, next to the Al Nassr bus. Antonio and Miguel are among those who decide to go down to wait for their idol, but before they reach the stairs the journalist approaches them to ask them: “Did you like the game?” “We liked Ronaldo. It is a pity that he was not able to score ”, The two kids respond with brotherly sympathy. “I will have to bring them back on Friday, against Benfica. I am from Benfica and I don’t change, huh?; I’m sure I’ll argue with them.” the parent jokes again. In reality, their children have not changed teams either: they continue to cheer Cristiano FC to death.

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