Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Raul Says Adios to Real Madrid

Raul bids goodbye to Real Madrid after 16 incredible years, 323 goals and 550 league games or 744 official games. He has spent most of his football career playing for Real Madrid until 25th of July 2010 when he decided to sign a two-year contract with German Bundesliga club Schalke 04. After 16 years, he will change his team wear from whites to royal blue. He is a legend and a tough act to follow because he really was the soul of Real Madrid. His exit marks the end of an era, the Raul Madrid era.
His records in numbers say it all:
  • 16 years - and 15 full seasons - with Real Madrid's senior side
  • 17 years and four months... The youngest ever player to debut for Real Madrid's first team
  • 228 League goals...third highest all-time goalscorer in La Liga
  • 323 Competitive goals...Real Madrid's all-time top scorer
  • 66 Champions League goals... all-time top scorer in the competition. He's also the first player to hit the 50-goal mark 68 goals in all UEFA club competition... joint all-time top scorer
  • 550 appearances in La Liga... a Real Madrid record and the second highest in the league's history
  • 132 Champions League appearances... second highest in the competition's history
  • 16 major titles including three times UEFA Champions League title plus six times the Spanish championship
  • Finishing his career as Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer

UEFA Champions League
1997/1998, 1999/2000, 2001/2002

Spanish championship
1994/1995, 1996/1997, 2000/2001, 2002/2003, 2006/2007, 2007/2008

Club World Cup
1998, 2002

European Super Cup

Spanish Super Cup
1997, 2001, 2003, 2008

He is a legend and a tough act to follow. Yes, there will be newer players, even better players as there is now. But what Raul is can’t simply be replaced by a good player. As Cyrus C Malek of Goal.com wrote:
Every team have their talisman - the player who symbolizes the principles and values of his club, the man who embodies his club’s spirit, the leader who wears the captain’s armband and heads his team not just by way of words, but also by example.

For Real Madrid, that man is Raul Gonzalez Blanco.

Here are some of what his former teammates had to say about Raul:

Iker Casillas
: "Raul is a symbol of Real Madrid. A great captain is defined by ups and downs, knowing how to always make the best of any situation. Raul is an example of professionalism and he helped me grow as a player and person. The incredible histories of clubs are written by great footballers, and Raul is one of them."

Cristiano Ronaldo: "Playing by Raul's side has been an honour. I always dreamed of doing so as a kid. It was an honour to share the same dressing room and I wish him all the best."

Xabi Alonso: "Raul represents the values of Real Madrid. He is a symbol and a part of this club's history. It isn't easy to play for Real Madrid for 15 years, but he did because is a magnificent player."

Kaka: "Raul is an amazing player and an important member of this club. Raul will forever be a part of Madridismo and his departure is a sad day for fans and team-mates."

Pepe: "The 16 years that he played here speak volumes about his talent. He holds a special place in my heart because he always followed my progress when I was injured. He got off from the bench and accompanied me to the dressing room, which was an incredible gesture that I will never forget. He is a huge piece of Real Madrid's history."
Schalke on the other hand is honored with his presence because as the Scalke boss said “Raul is one of the world's best players. The fans have something to look forward to. Raul is one of that rare breed of footballers who put their own interests behind those of the team. And you don’t get that very often these days.

And so we wish him luck on his new journey with Schalke 04. He will wear a new color, Royal Blues, and a new
team uniform but still with his traditional number 7, he is still El Siete.

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