(R-L) Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Prime Minister Antonio Costa and President of Madeira Autonomous Region Miguel Albuquerque attend an airport renaming ceremony in Funchal March 29, 2017. Portugal on Wednesday renamed Madeira airport as Cristiano Ronaldo airport in honor of the captain of the Portuguese national football team. Funchal on Madeira Islands is the hometown of Cristiano Ronaldo. (Xinhua/Zhang Liyun)
LISBON, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Portugal's Madeira Airport had its name changed on Wednesday to honor football star Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Many thanks for being here. Seeing my name on this airport is something very special, every one knows I am proud of my roots and my land," Ronaldo said at a ceremony held at the airport.
"Everyone knows how important it is for me for honors to be made while the person is still alive," he added.
The ceremony was attended by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Prime Minister Antonio Costa, president of the government of Madeira autonomous region Miguel Albuquerque as well as Ronaldo's family member and friends.
President Rebelo de Sousa said that the renaming ceremony indicates that regional autonomy can be conjugated with national unity and it is an "exceptional homage to an exceptional person".
Albuquerque said that the football player is a "great Portuguese" and a man who by his talent and hard work surpasses the frontiers of the island and became the best football player in the world.
"He is the best-known Portuguese person and admired on all continents by all generations," he said, adding that despite his fame, he never turned his back on the region or his country and always helped those who most needed it.
The ceremony took place a day after Ronaldo and his team's friendly match against Sweden in the island's capital Funchal, where the Real Madrid footballer was born.