DUBAI: A Syrian boy who survived last month’s earthquake has not only had his dream of meeting football legend Cristiano Ronaldo fulfilled, but also watched his hero in action for Riyadh club Al-Nassr on Friday.
Rabea Shaheen, 10, caught the public’s attention in an interview shortly after the disaster when he said that he dreamt of meeting Ronaldo.
The video went viral with over 2.3 million views.
On Friday, Shaheen’s hopes of coming face to face with the Portuguese superstar were finally realized.
“Today my dream has come true,” Shaheen can be heard as saying in a 34-second video that Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the Kingdom’s General Entertainment Authority, tweeted.
“I love Ronaldo because he knows how to play football and I wish one day to play like him and train with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr Club,” the 10-year-old added.
In the video that was viewed over 6.1 million times, the overjoyed 10-year-old can be seen walking quickly toward Ronaldo, shaking hands with him and then hugging him, while saying “I love you.”
The Portuguese smiles and replies: “You are OK.”
“I wish Al-Nassr wins,” Shaheen says near the end of the video. Al-Sheikh tweeted: “Your joy is my joy. God bless the King, the inspiring leader, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, the Saudi people and thanks to the great international star.”
Ronaldo replied to Al-Sheikh’s tweet with “amen” and heart emojis.
Shaheen later watched and cheered as Ronaldo helped Al-Nassr defeat Al-Batin 3-1, a victory that came with three goals in stoppage time.
In another video tweeted by Al-Sheikh, the Syrian boy is seen smiling while wearing the club’s blue-and-yellow scarf and holding their flag.
Shaheen can also be seen clapping and cheering during the seven-second video, which had over 647,000 views.
The GEA chairman, who was moved by Shaheen’s dramatic experience, invited the boy and his mother to Riyadh to make his dream come true.
The initial video in which Shaheen expressed his wish to meet Ronaldo was posted by Emirati journalist Monther Al-Muzaki Al-Shamsi, who went to Syria to cover the disaster.
Al-Shamsi posted the video to his Twitter account on Feb. 16.
In comments published previously by Arab News, the Emirati journalist told Shaheen: “One day, your dream will come true. You will get to go to the stadium and take the people you love with you, where you will see Ronaldo, and perhaps he will give you one of Al-Nassr’s club T-shirts,” to which Shaheen replied: “Ameen.”
Ronaldo also fulfilled the dream of a paraplegic five-year-old Saudi boy, Ibrahim Al-Anzi, and met him before the match on Friday.
Al-Anzi had appealed to Al-Sheikh for help meeting his idol, which the GEA chairman responded to in a matter of hours.
After the match, Al-Anzi posted a video thanking Al-Sheikh for fulfilling his wishes, saying: “Thank you Baba Turki for making my dream of visiting (Al Nassr’s) Marsoul Park Stadium come true.”