Cristiano Ronaldo is already an icon in Saudi Arabia.

The 37-year-old still hasn’t technically kicked a ball for Al-Nassr, but in many ways that simply doesn’t matter because his influence on the Gulf state has already been clear for everyone to see.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Saudi Pro League hasn’t attracted anyone of the quality of Ronaldo before, someone who found themselves on the Ballon d’Or shortlist and leading the line for Manchester United just a few months ago.

What impact has Ronaldo had on Saudi Arabia?

And in the few appearances that Ronaldo has made in public since moving to Saudi Arabia, the cultural impact that he’s had already has been remarkable.

While, yes, Ronaldo is pretty much treated like a god wherever he goes, you really get the sense that he’s found a place where he’s truly loved and adored out in Riyadh.

From the partisan shows of support at his unveiling to the massive spike in Al-Nassr’s social media accounts, Ronaldo fever has well and truly hit Saudi Arabia.

And the nation of 35.95 million people got to see Ronaldo in action for the very first time on Thursday when he played in a Riyadh XI for an exhibition match against Paris Saint-Germain.

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In what could well prove to be the final ever head-to-head clash between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the great man found the back of the net twice and was presented with the Man of the Match award.

As such, the love and adulation for Ronaldo was clearer than ever with his first goal, in particular, drawing a spectacular rendition of his iconic ‘SIUUU celebration’.

Why did the fans go crazy for Ronaldo vs PSG?

Remarkably, though, Ronaldo seemed to receive just as much noise from the stands when he wasn’t on the pitch, watching the final half an hour from the bench having been subbed off.

That’s because Ronaldo would appear on the big screen at the King Fahd International Stadium every now and again with the cameras panning to him on the television coverage.

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And the response to that was extroardinary because the mere image of Ronaldo sitting and watching the game would produce a noise akin to a team having scored in most stadiums around the world.

In fact, when the appearance of Ronaldo’s face drew a particularly big reaction during stoppage time, the Portugal superstar could no longer keep it cool and duly saluted the fans with a cheesy grin on his face.

It only served to show that Ronaldo’s frankly unmatched influence has already put Al-Nassr fans under his spell, but that he’s more likely than not going to love life out in Saudi Arabia.

Video: Fans go wild when Ronaldo appears on the screen
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Imagine being such an icon that appearing on the screen evokes that reaction!

But then again, when you’re the most-followed human being on Instagram and amongst the greatest athletes in history, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that he’s treated like a footballing god by his most passionate of fans.

One game in and it already looks as though the relationship between Ronaldo and the supporters in Saudi Arabia is exactly where it wants to be in order for him to succeed in Al-Nassr.

You always get the feeling that Ronaldo thrives when he knows that he’s loved and that’s almost certainly assured for as long as he calls Saudi Arabia his home.

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