Karim Benzema has officially been unveiled in front of 60,000 supporters inside the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium after joining Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad.
The Frenchman became the second superstar to move to the Middle East, following in the footsteps of his former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.
Benzema was announced to a roaring crowd that hailed the 35-year-old’s arrival in the nation and adorned the number nine shirt as he walked out onto the pitch.
The announcement began with Benzema attending a press conference where questions were asked in English and the striker responded with answers in French that were then translated.
Joining on a three-year contract worth £258million, Benzema revealed that his move to Saudi Arabia was inspired by his Muslim religion, not the bounty of money on offer.
‘Because I am Muslim and it’s a Muslim country. I’ve always wanted to live there. I’ve already been to Saudi Arabia and I feel good about it,’ said Benzema.
‘To me it’s where I want to be… I hope for my new club, what I’ll be able to bring is my football and most importantly to be able to win titles.
‘It’s a new chapter for me and I would like to further advance the club. It’s a club with a lot of passion.’
Benzema is of Muslim faith and now finds himself playing in the ‘holy kingdom’ where Islam is practiced by 90 per cent of the population.
The goalscorer brought his Ballon d’Or award to the procession and was encouraged to show it off to Al-Ittihad supporters who had gathered inside the stadium.
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A light show lit up his initials alongside the number nine to celebrate his awarding of the shirt number, the same that he adopted during a glorious spell of success in Madrid.
Benzema scored 354 goals in 648 games and won a club-record 25 trophies during his time with the LaLiga side.
Upon departing Spain, he told a farewell press conference: ‘I’ll never forget Real Madrid because it’s impossible.
‘It’s difficult to talk. There are so many emotions. I wanted to thank Real Madrid and my team-mates. It’s been a good journey in my life.
‘I was lucky enough to fulfil my childhood dream thanks to the president, who a long time ago, when I was just 21 years old, went to my house, with my parents.