Cristiano Ronaldo on Sunday gave a display of pure star power in his debut for Italian champions Juventus, showing his class on and off the pitch at the club’s traditional alpine curtain raiser.
Nearly 5,000 fans crammed into the compact “Gaetano Scirea” stadium in Villar Perosa at the foot of the Italian Alps, as supporters descended on the small town in order to catch a glimpse of the superstar attacker in his first appearance since signing for 100 million euros ($117 million) a month ago.
They were rewarded with a goal in the friendly between Juve’s first XI and a youth “B” team from their new hero, who also took the time out to sign autographs and pose for selfies while many of his teammates sloped off to the dressing room.
Chants of “Ronaldo, bring us the Champions (League)” filled the air as supporters worked their way through a locked-down mountain town in which 600 police officers were called to a place with a population of just over 4,000 and road blocks stopped anyone entering without a match ticket or proof of residence.
The town’s bars and restaurants were heaving with fans and media hours before the match’s 1700 (1500 GMT kick off), with fans in replica kits wrapped in scarves and flags arriving to see the five-times Ballon d’Or winner take part in one of Italian football’s most curious traditions.