Rome — Juventus fans gave Cristiano Ronaldo a rousing welcome on Monday as the club prepared to unveil the superstar signing they hope will bring the Champions League trophy back to Turin.
Hundreds of fans gathered outside the Allianz Stadium in Turin from early morning singing "Ronaldo, bring us the Champions [League]" as the European competition’s most lethal striker of all time made a brief appearance ahead of his medical on Monday. The 33-year-old emerged from the club’s medical centre to sign autographs and shake hands amid raucous chants of his name before going back inside for further tests.
The five-times Ballon d’Or winner was due to sign a four-year deal that will earn him a reported €30m a season.
Ronaldo fever hit Turin after the announcement last week of his €100m transfer from European champions Real Madrid, which Italian media reports will cost Juve a total of €350m.
Many of the youngsters who came out to greet their new hero were wearing Juventus shirts emblazoned with "Ronaldo" and the No7, which have been selling like hot cakes in the city. Others wore T-shirts with the message "Bem-vindo" — "welcome" in Portuguese — which 5,000 shopkeepers put up on posters around the Italian city ahead of Ronaldo’s arrival late on Sunday.
One ice-cream parlour in Turin has invented a "CR7" cone, featuring a Portuguese cherry liquor and chocolate.
The joy was not universally shared. His costly signing upset leaders of one minority union at a car plant in southern Italy owned by Fiat-Chrysler — in turn owned by the same holding company as Juventus. They called a protest strike for Monday but only five of the plant’s 1,700 workers turned out in support of the action, which was dismissed as a "stunt" by bigger worker unions in Melfi, in the Basilicata region.
Juventus fans are hoping that Ronaldo’s arrival will push them onto Europe’s top table. Fresh from their seventh Serie A title in as many years and four straight domestic doubles, the Old Lady of Italian football has struggled to turn domestic dominance into European success as they strive for the continent’s holy grail.
"Our hope is to win the Champions League; that for now is the only objective that we’ve not been able to conquer," says Francesco, 38, from the Tuscan city of Pisa. "Ronaldo coming will only bring good things to Juventus… He’ll help others to learn things that only champions like him can do."