World-famous soccer player of Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team, Cristiano Ronaldo, was in İstanbul on Saturday as the guest of Beşiktaş Chairman Yıldırım Demirören, drawing a huge crowd to İstikal Street in Taksim, where he attended the inauguration ceremony of a shopping mall owned by Demirören.
The private plane carrying Ronaldo and his girlfriend, famous Russian model Irina Shayk, landed at İstanbul Atatürk Airport early Saturday. The couple was then transferred to their accommodations at the Çırağan Kempisnki Hotel by helicopter.
They were arrived at the shopping mall located along İstiklal Street later than planned due to the huge crowds as thousands of soccer fans flocked into the street to see one of world's most expensive soccer players. Although Ronaldo was scheduled to sign autographs in the shopping mall, the session was cancelled due to the stampede. The player instead addressed the crowd from the balcony of a café in the shopping mall. “I love you all. I am very happy to be here in Turkey. I thank everyone who came here for me,” he said.
Responding to questions from reporters after his address, Ronaldo said he was pleased to see that such a crowd gathered for him. When asked whether he wants to play for a Turkish team, he said there are many years ahead of him and he cannot guess what might happen.
The trams running along İstiklal Street were forced to come to a halt due to the crowds, and some shop owners had to close their shops.