Cristiano Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid return at Champions League victory parade
Cristiano Ronaldo suggested he was planning on returning to Real Madrid next season, one day after he spoke of a possible exit, as Real Madrid celebrated a European title with their fans for a third straight year.
After winning their 13th European title with a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday, Madrid brought the Champions League trophy home on Sunday and paraded it through the streets of the Spanish capital as thousands of fans saluted the newly crowned champions.
Ronaldo avoided making any specific comments about his future as he addressed the fans at the Plaza de Cibeles, but left by saying: "Thanks, guys, until next year."
The Portuguese star -- who after Saturday's victory said "It has been very nice being at Real Madrid" and would make a decision on his future in the coming days -- was animated throughout the parade and led multiple chants of "Campeones, campeones."
The celebrations ended at a packed Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where Ronaldo took the microphone again to say: "I'm proud to play in the greatest club in the world."
That sparked the fans to shout for Ronaldo to stay -- "Cristiano quédate" -- with his teammates also joining in.
"Thank you, this [support] is very important for me," Ronaldo added. "I am very pleased by the passion that you have always shown me. At the matches, on the streets. Thank you to all the players who accompany me. I am doing very well. Winning is what I like to do the most and with this team it is impossible to not win the Champions League."
The festivities began with players and team members participating in a ceremony at a local cathedral. Then they met with the city mayor and community president before addressing fans from a terrace at the Puerta del Sol square, one of Madrid's main locations.
"It has become a routine to be here," captain Sergio Ramos said. "Hopefully it will continue for many years."
The team then got on an open bus and paraded with the trophy until reaching the club's traditional celebration spot, the Plaza de Cibeles, where fans had been waiting for the champions for hours.
Ramos and left-back Marcelo carried the trophy across the walkway set up over the plaza's fountain and draped the statue of the goddess Cibele with a Spain flag that carried Madrid's name on it. Ramos also put a team scarf around the goddess' head to huge cheers from the crowd as the song "We Are The Champions" was played.
The final stop was at the Bernabeu, where nearly 80,000 fans attended a ceremony honoring the European champions. Players and coaches were introduced one by one amid a lights show, then lifted the trophy on a midfield stage as confetti and fireworks blasted in the background.
The stadium had already been packed on Saturday with fans watching the final on eight big screens set up on the field.
Thousands had already made it to the Plaza de Cibeles right after the game in celebrations that lasted into the early hours of Sunday.
Madrid havewon the Champions League in four of the last five years. They had beaten Juventus last season, and city rivals Atletico Madrid in finals in 2014 and 2016.
Members of Real Madrid's basketball team, which won the European title this year, were also honoured in the ceremony at the Bernabeu.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.