Cristiano Ronaldo stands as Al Nassr’s prominent figure, marking a significant chapter in the club’s history. While his arrival in December, signing a substantial £175 million annual contract, triggered a surge of top-tier players joining the Saudi Pro League, Ronaldo is not the first Ballon d’Or winner to grace the team.
Approximately 25 years ago, Al Nassr boasted the presence of Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov, who clinched the Ballon d’Or in 1994 during his tenure with Barcelona. Known as ‘El Pistolero,’ Stoichkov had an illustrious career, securing four La Liga titles and one European Cup under Johan Cruyff. His brief stint at Al Nassr in 1998, consisting of just two matches, aimed at securing victory in the Asian Cup Winners’ Cup.
Despite the short-term nature of his contract, Stoichkov played a pivotal role in Al Nassr’s success, notably scoring the decisive goal against Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh. The reported £165,000 payment for two games proved worthwhile for Al Nassr, achieving their goal of winning the Asian Cup Winners’ Cup.
Stoichkov continued his football journey, later playing in Japan with Kashiwa Reysol and in the MLS with both Chicago Fire and D.C United before retiring in 2003.