Famed Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored hundreds of goals in his career, invariably celebrates by running to the corner flag to perform his iconic “Siu” celebration – pirouetting in the air before landing in a power stance.
But after scoring a decisive goal for his Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr in a 3-2 victory against Al-Shabab, Ronaldo celebrated with a gesture similar to one commonly performed in the Arab country hosting him – a Sajdah, the low bowing or prostration often performed by Muslim footballers after scoring.
After his winning strike – Saudi media are calling it “his best goal since arriving in Saudi Arabia” – Ronaldo took a low bow to the ground, surrounded by his yellow-shirted Al Nassr teammates who cheered him on with the fans in the stadium.
His gesture went viral on social media, spurring a whirlpool of comments from fans across the region.
“Cristiano Ronaldo’s joy with the third goal and his prostration to God in thankfulness,” tweeted Ali Alabdallah, a Saudi sports correspondent, to his 411,000 followers.
“May God guide his heart to Islam,” he said in his caption to the video.
Many others rejoiced at the victory and the accompanying gesture, wishing the star player future success.
The movement, which includes a bow to the ground and touching the grass with one’s forehead, is a celebratory gesture performed mostly by Muslim footballers.
It is also part of standardized Islamic prayer, traditionally practiced while facing the ‘qibla,’ or the direction of the Kaaba in the holy Saudi Arabian city of Mecca.
Ronaldo joined Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr last year. His acquisition is part of the kingdom’s effort to revamp its global image and expand its economy beyond oil and gas.