Cristiano Ronaldo receives a crazy welcome in Iran as hundreds of fans chase the Al-Nassr team bus and storm their hotel ahead of Asian Champions League game with Persepolis… but the star looks thrilled with his welcome gift!
- Al-Nassr arrived in the Iranian capital Tehran prior to the match against Persepolis
- Hundreds of excited fans clamored for a glimpse of star Cristiano Ronaldo
- Listen to the latest episode of the Mail Sport podcast It all starts!
Cristiano Ronaldo was greeted by extraordinary scenes in Iran, with hundreds of fans chasing the Al-Nassr bus and then storming the team’s hotel to catch a glimpse of him.
The Saudi Arabian club are set to play Tehran’s Persepolis in their opening match of the AFC Champions League group stage on Tuesday evening and they have been given a very warm welcome.
Videos released on Al-Nassr’s X-feed showed fans running along the road in pursuit of their yellow team coach as pre-match excitement reached boiling point.
Fans young and old were spotted holding up Ronaldo posters and wearing Ronaldo shirts as the Portuguese superstar prepared for a performance in the Iranian capital.
Other videos on social media showed hundreds of local fans rushing into the lobby of the hotel where Al-Nassr was staying, chanting “Ronaldo, Ronaldo.”
Hundreds of excited fans chased the Al-Nassr team bus as they tried to catch a glimpse of star Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of the Saudi club’s Asian Champions League match against Persepolis
Videos posted by Al-Nassr on social media showed the extraordinary reception in Tehran
Wearing sunglasses and holding a few roses, Ronaldo arrives at Tehran airport
The Portuguese star seemed delighted when he received a Persian carpet from Persepolis as a gift
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Ronaldo was seen smiling as he was escorted by security guards to his room at the Espinas Palace Tehran, followed by the rest of the Al-Nassr team and their staff.
An entire floor has been reserved for the Al-Nassr party, with a suite reserved for Ronaldo.
In a slightly less chaotic moment, Ronaldo was presented with a traditional Persian carpet shortly after arriving at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport and appeared delighted with the gift.
Another gift for the Al-Nassr Party will be in the form of special SIM cards that will allow them unlimited access to the Internet during their stay.
This is something Iranian citizens cannot do because thousands of websites and all global messaging services and social media are blocked.
Tuesday’s match at the 78,000-capacity Aazdi Stadium does bring some regrets for locals as it will be played behind closed doors.
This relates to a one-match stadium ban imposed on Persepolis over a social media post ahead of their match against Indian club FC Goa during the 2021-2022 season.
Hundreds of fans stormed the lobby of the hotel where Cristiano Ronaldo is staying
Fans chanted ‘Ronaldo, Ronaldo’ as they tried their best to catch a glimpse of their hero
The now-deleted post cited the Iranian invasion of India (in 1738-1740) and historic battles between the two countries to encourage their team ahead of the group stage meetings with Goa.
The message offended people in India and their football association formally complained to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which banned Persepolis.
They did not play in continental competitions last season, so the suspension will now – as is their bad luck – apply to the visit of Al-Nassr and Ronaldo.
In recent days, Persepolis fans have apologized on FC Goa Instagram posts in an attempt to have the last-minute ban overturned.
Ronaldo talks to Persepolis officials while receiving a traditional carpet as a gift
Ronaldo looks at his welcome gift after landing in Tehran on Monday
But as it stands, the match is being played without any spectators present, which could explain the crazy scenes when Al-Nassr arrived.
Al-Nassr is the first Saudi club to visit Iran in seven years. Tensions between the two countries have often been high, but an agreement struck by China in March restored ties.
It comes as five American prisoners wanted by the United States flew out of Tehran on Monday as part of a deal that saw the release of almost $6 billion (£4.85 billion) in Iranian assets.
Despite the deal, tensions between the two countries remain high over various disputes, including over Tehran’s nuclear program.