Cristiano Ronaldo‘s nine year spell in the Spanish capital has now come to an end, with the news the Portuguese star will be joining the Italian club, Juventus, for the 2018/19 season.

“Real Madrid wants to express its gratitude to a player who has proven to be the best in the world and who has marked one of the greatest eras in the history of our club and of world soccer,” the club said in a statement.

Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009 from Manchester United and was the Spanish club’s all-time leading scorer with 451 goals in 438 matches. He helped the club win four Champions League titles — beating Juventus in the final in 2017 — and also won the league and cup twice each.

Real Madrid now has 105 million euros burning a hole in their pocket (plus Cristiano’s wages) and a need for a new man up front. The talk had all been of Florentino Pérez being obsessed by bringing in Neymar, but the feeling, particularly with their respective performance’s at the World Cup, is that Mbappé might be Real Madrid’s number 1 target now.

Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting Lisbon when he was 17. His crossover dribble was already famous when Alex Ferguson brought him to Manchester United ahead of the 2003-04 season and gave him the No. 7 shirt of the recently departed David Beckham.

He spent six seasons in England, winning three Premier League titles, one Champions League title and one FA Cup.

Ronaldo led Portugal to its first major title at the European Championship two years ago in France. He helped the Portuguese team reach the semifinals in his first World Cup in 2006.

Portugal was eliminated by Uruguay in the round of 16 of this year’s tournament in Russia. Ronaldo scored four goals to take his tally to 85 for his country and break Ferenc Puskas’ record as Europe’s all-time leading international scorer.

Fancy a video of some of Cristiano’s finest moves in LaLiga? Here you go, with the Spanish domestic league tweeting thanks to Cristiano for having played in the “best league in the world”.

Cristiano has written an emotive farewell letter to the Real Madrid fans: 

These years at Real Madrid, and in the city of Madrid, have been probably the happiest of my life.

I only have feelings of enormous gratitude for this club, for these fans and for this city. I can only thank them all for the love and affection they have given me.

However, I believe the time has come to embark on a new stage in my life and for this reason I have I asked the club to allow me to leave. I apologise for this and ask everybody, and especially the club’s fans, to please understand me.

These have been nine wonderful years, nine unique years. It has been a thrilling time for me, although it has also been hard because of the huge demands of Real Madrid, but I am fully aware that I will never forget that I have enjoyed playing football here in a completely unique way.

I have had fabulous teammates in the dressing room and on the pitch, I have felt the passion of an incredible set of fans and together we have won three consecutive Champions Leagues and four in five years. And as well as that, at an individual level, I have the satisfaction of having won four Ballons d’Or and three Golden Boots. All of this has been achieved during my career at this huge and extraordinary club.

Real Madrid has won a place in my heart and in the hearts of my family, and for that I want more than ever to say thank you: thank you to the club, to the president, to the board, to my teammates, to all the coaches, physios and amazing employees that make everything work and who are tirelessly attentive to every detail.

My infinite thanks again to our fans and also to Spanish football. During these nine years I have played against some of the greatest players in the world. I also send my respect and recognition to them.

I have spent a long time reflecting and I have decided that the time has come for a new stage in my life. I am leaving but this shirt, this crest and the Santiago Bernabéu will continue to feel a part of me wherever I may be.

Thank you to everyone and of course, as I said on that first occasion in our stadium nine years ago: “Hala Madrid!”

Real Madrid will be playng Juventus at the Fedexfield close to Washington DC on August 5. Interesting to see if Cristiano will be starting…