Cristiano Ronaldo has poured out “enormous gratitude” for Real Madrid and insists that the club will forever remain a part of him in an emotional statement to supporters.
Los Blancos announced on Tuesday afternoon that the 33-year-old is to join Juventus on a four-year deal, ending his trophy-laden nine-year spell in the Spanish capital.
The Portugal international scored a staggering 450 goals in 438 games for the reigning European champions, in the process becoming Madrid’s greatest ever player.
Ronaldo has issued a lengthy statement on the club’s official website, which can be read in full below:
“These years in Real Madrid, and in this city of Madrid, have been possibly the happiest of my life,” he said. “I only have feelings of enormous gratitude for this club, for this hobby and for this city. I can only thank all of them for the love and affection I have received.
“However, I believe that the time has come to open a new stage in my life and that is why I have asked the club to accept transferring me. I feel that way and I ask everyone, and especially our followers, to please understand me.
“They have been absolutely wonderful for nine years. They have been nine unique years. It has been an exciting time for me, full of consideration but also hard because Real Madrid is of a very high demand, but I know very well that I will never forget that I have enjoyed football here in a unique way.
“I have had fabulous teammates in the field and in the dressing room, I have felt the warmth of an incredible crowd and together we have won three Champions in a row and four Champions [Leagues] in five years. And with them also, on an individual level, I have the satisfaction of having won four Golden Balls and three Golden Boots. All during my time in this immense and extraordinary club.
“Real Madrid has conquered my heart, and that of my family, and that is why more than ever I want to say thank you: thanks to the club, the President, the directors, my colleagues, all the technicians, doctors, physios and incredible workers that make everything work and that are pending every detail tirelessly.
“Thank you infinitely once more to our fans and thanks also to Spanish Football. During these nine exciting years I have had great players in front of me. My respect and my recognition for all of them. I have reflected a lot and I know that the time has come for a new cycle. I’m leaving but this shirt, this shield and the Santiago Bernabeu will continue to always feel as my own wherever I am.
“Thanks to all and, of course, as I said that first time in our stadium 9 years ago: Hala Madrid!”
Ronaldo is currently on holiday in Greece after playing four times for Portugal in this summer’s World Cup, and will not join up with his new teammates until later this month.