Ronaldo receives rapturous reception

MADRID - Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo, the record 80 million-pound signing the club hope will help restore them to former glories, was welcomed by 80,000 jubilant fans at the Bernabeu on Monday.

After 50,000 turned out for the presentation of Brazilian playmaker Kaka last week, the club faithful began converging on the stadium around lunchtime to welcome the Portuguese international.

The huge arena in the centre of the Spanish capital again reverberated to the beat of rock music as a selection of Ronaldo's goals were replayed on a giant screen in the centre of the pitch.

Ronaldo, who had never been to the Bernabeu before, emerged just after 9pm local time to a rapturous reception and was welcomed by club legend Alfredo di Stefano, compatriot Eusebio and club president Florentino Perez.

VIDEO: Watch Ronaldo's unveiling in our Clip of the Day section "I am very happy to be here," the World Player of the Year, clad in Real's all-white strip and his new number nine shirt, told fans.

"A childhood dream has come true for me, to come to Real Madrid. It's incredible that the stadium is full just for me," he added, before showing off his skills with the ball and greeting fans.

The 24-year-old, who joined Real from English champions Manchester United, is the jewel in the crown of Perez's self-styled "spectacular sporting project".

After bringing "galacticos" David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo to the club during his previous term, Perez has spent around 215 million euros on Ronaldo, Kaka, French striker Karim Benzema and defender Raul Albiol.

He is hoping the signing of such high-profile players will help Real take the Spanish and European Champions League crowns from arch-rivals Barcelona and boost revenue via the sale of replica merchandise and marketing rights.

BIG CHALLENGE

At a news conference later on Monday with club director general Jorge Valdano, Ronaldo said he was proud to have become the world's most expensive player.

"If a club wants the best players it has to pay for it," he said. "I am happy to be the most expensive player in the world."

He said his former colleagues in Manchester and the United fans understood and respected his decision to leave after six years.

"This is a big challenge for me here. This is my life, my new house, my new club and I am going to give 100 percent for this club."

Valdano said the attention from non-sports media that Ronaldo was bringing to the club worried him but added he was sure the player had a successful career ahead of him.

"Given that he is not yet at his peak and he is a very ambitious person there is no goal that he cannot achieve," Valdano said.