How Cristiano Ronaldo brings elite football to Kazan

How Cristiano Ronaldo brings elite football to Kazan Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The national football team of Portugal headed by star Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in Kazan on 14 June. Here the Portuguese athletes are going to stay at least till the end of the group stage. On 15 June, we became witnesses of a real phantasmagorical picture in Aviastroitelny District: the famous Portuguese had training at Rubin FC's base together with his team. Realnoe Vremya tells how the training was and how the capital of Tatarstan welcomed the noted guests.

Thanks, Kazan!

On 14 June evening, Kazan was thinking of the only news – the national football team of Portugal and its star Cristiano Ronaldo were to come. The plane with the Portuguese players landed at the Kazan airport at 11 p.m. Despite this, hundreds of people were welcoming him. Almost the same number of people gathered on the way to the hotel where the national team was going to live. Everybody wanted one thing – to see legendary Ronaldo live! The basic programme for citizens of Kazan was an all-inclusive programme: the police skilfully blocked the way to the players, it was not possible to get closer to have an autograph or take a selfie.

However, nobody took offence of this reception of the guardians. Many people dreamt of seeing Cristiano live, and it finally became real. The very Portuguese guests were already taking photos as soon as they left the plane, and content athletes immediately went to the bus. They were not stopped near the hotel as well. They quickly approached the place of their next location. Some players even smiled and waved their fans hand. But in general, they did not express great interest in the crowd that surrounded them.

Most long-awaited guest of the city Cristiano Ronaldo was especially kind to the Kazan football fans. The Portuguese waved the people a hand first and thumbed up before hiding in the hotel. Ronaldo was content. The high-profile football guest could not help but like such a warm reception. He probably enjoyed more when he saw gorgeous graffiti sprayed on the wall of a house where the Portuguese world football star's windows looking out. Cristiano finally touched the hearts of citizens of Kazan with his gratitude in one of the social networks where he accompanied his photo with the words: ''Thanks, Kazan.''

Thanks to the coaching staff, they did not separate the players from the media and trained in their presence

National team of Portugal instead of Rubin

The Portuguese guests decided to stay at Ramada having decided it would be easier to get the training place. They are going to prepare for the next matches at Kazan Rubin's base. A new training pitch where grass that is identical to that of Kazan Arena was laid for this purpose. There is not just a better place for a full-fledged work in Kazan. In this respect, the Portuguese were demonstrated a very warm and hospitable welcome.

Despite such a late arrival in the capital of Tatarstan, the Portuguese guests did not cancel the morning training and appeared at the base at 10.30 a.m. A big crowd made up either journalists or fans was waiting for them. It wasn't real to find out it. It is impossible to imagine such a movement on a usual day. The rush was mainly explained by only one name – Ronaldo. Only one thing is clear – Cristiano is unlikely to join Rubin ever, and nobody knows whether it will be possible to see him in Kazan again. Same Lionel Messi could not win in the capital of Tatarstan at two attempts.

Accredited journalists were finally allowed to be present at Portugal's training. Thanks to the coaching staff, they did not separate the players from the media and trained in their presence. Many people were interested in Cristiano who was not different from his teammates and carefully listened to coach Fernando Santos' words in the centre of the pitch. Then there was a short warm-up, and the players worked on shots on goal a bit. This time Ronaldo did not score, but nobody was sad.

Bruno Alves who is famous for his performances in Russia and a representative of the coaching staff came to report instead of Ronaldo

Ronaldo did not visit the press conference

A press conference took place before training. Everybody was waiting for Ronaldo in the place where Chaly, Bilyaletdinov and Kuznetsov gave their comments in the past. But the Portuguese guests decided to save their leader from direct communication to the media. Bruno Alves who is famous for his performances in Russia and a representative of the coaching staff came to report instead of him. But the importance of Cristiano for the squad was the most important question.

''I can say he is an idol even for us. It is difficult to express the pride we feel for him. How he plays, how represents Portugal on the international stage! We wait a lot from him here as well,'' Bruno Alves praised his teammate.

Then the defender expressed his gratitude to his former club and Saint Petersburg and noted they arrived in Russia to win. Alves was also surprisingly tactful towards their proximate rival calling Mexico a tough rival.

''I am happy to be back to Russia. I have only positive memories of the experience at Zenit. Here I have many friends. Russia is always in my heart. Thanks, Russia, Zenit, Saint Petersburg! We came here to win the Confederations Cup. And we have everything for it. Our first opponent in the tournament is a very obstinate team. Mexico plays very aggressively, starts to attack well. I expect an open and tense game,'' Bruno Alves said at the press conference.

These words of the leading defender of the squad prove the Portuguese players have serious intentions. They have a great opportunity to present their country another title right from the first Confederations Cup. What is more, this trophy will make Cristiano Ronaldo almost unattainable in terms of achievements. The famous Portuguese player will lack the world championships only, but there is still time.

So while Kurban Berdyev is only preparing to return elite football to Kazan through Rubin's successes. This football came to the Tatarstan capital on its own or, to be more precise, flew.

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By Zulfat Shafigullin
Sports