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By Martin Graham | 2nd Mar 2023
Cristiano Ronaldo has won the first individual award in his new league after bagging the February player of the month award in the Saudi Pro League.
The Al-Nassr front man scored eight goals in three games and added two assists to boot as Al-Nassr swept away their opponents in the league. A four-goal haul and a hat-trick saw him finish as the leagues highest goal scorer for the month and its most impactful player, for which he was rewarded with votes from across the league when the award nominations were announced.
He has shaken off his difficult start to life in Riyadh following a poor World Cup outing in neighbouring Qatar with the Portugal national team and a bad six month spell with Manchester United where he had to deal with being second fiddle to Erik ten Hag’s chosen.
His first goal of the month – and his first in the league – was a last gasp penalty against Al-Fateh to save his side’s blushes, despite them playing with only 10 men. He followed it up with a four-goal haul against Al-Wehda in a comprehensive victory for Rudi Garcia’s team. He then recorded two assists against Al-Taawoun in a 2 – 1 win before rounding off the month with a hat-trick against Damac to give his side a 3 – 0 victory.
He has started to pay back the $200 million investment made on him on the pitch, but off the pitch – the business side of things – he has long delivered on that investment.
Al-Nassr have recorded record crowds since his move to the Mrsool Park and continue to sell out away tickets for the Saudi Pro League. He has also immersed himself in the country’s culture, having also signed on as a cultural ambassador to help their bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
He was seen last weekend in traditional Saudi clothing dancing and partaking in the sword dancing festival as part of activities for their founding day celebrations. He was also in the crowd for a celebrity boxing match between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury.
His accolade comes after his eternal rival Lionel Messi grabbed his second FIFA The Best award for a stellar performance at the 2022 World Cup.
Ronaldo remains ahead of Messi in that category, however, as Messi only caught up to his two awards on Monday. But FIFA notes Messi as having won the award seven times to Ronaldo’s five, thanks to their collaboration with France Football in the past on the Ballon d’Or awards.
Ronaldo also missed out on the FIFPRO World XI for the first time since 2006, spelling an end to his dominance on the global stage. However, his award in the Saudi Pro League proves he is not done and that he could me making a comeback to the global scene.