"I'm very happy and honoured", beamed Cristiano Ronaldo while attending the tribute laid on by his home town, Funchal today, as the island's airport was officially renamed from Madeira Airport to Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira International Airport.
Cristiano's reply to detractors on renaming Madeira airport
"I know that some people are not in agreement with this - including some of the people who are here today, but we are free, we live in a democracy" Cristiano said in a speech, before adding that he is aware of the new responsibility he is undertaking. "I will always endeavour to bring respect for Portugal and especially Madeira".
Cristiano, whose Spanish girlfriend Georgina Rodríguez accompanied him during the ceremony, then made way for Portugal President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who admitted that the decision to rename the airport in honour of the Real Madrid player "implicates responsibility, but inspires confidence".
Portugal President praises Cristiano Ronaldo
Rebelo de Sousa continued: "Cristiano Ronaldo promotes Madeira and Portugal to the rest of the world better than anybody. Cristiano will also be an example, a genius who has achieved everything - through sheer hard work, effort, persistence, love and pride for his homeland. It's an exceptional election, for an exceptional personality, and we are convinced that he will never let us down".
Those who were against renaming the airport to honour the Real Madrid star argue that traditionally, such procedures are only done as eulogies to important figures who have passed away, not the living.
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