When Raul was called up for first team action in 1994, the Spanish forward was 17 years old and was the youngest player ever to be awarded the great honor of playing for Los Blancos. Now 15 seasons and over 320 goals later, the Spanish national team all time leading scorer has officially bid adieu to his longtime league family and is expected to join German side Schalke later this summer.
Raul admitted at his farewell press conference that it was “a very hard day” as “football has been my life and Real Madrid my home and together we have lived unique moments.” And the former captain knows all about these special times considering he won 6 league titles, 3 Champions League cups, 4 Supacopa de Espanas, and was honored 3 different times as the UEFA Forward of the Year.
All in all Raul is one of the most recognized names in the game of European football over the last two decades and he has been a key component to the Los Blancos for so long that he was actually featured on Super Nintendo video games. Just think of that when you think of longevity. The man’s career nearly has outlived the Internet and certainly has outlived fantasy football by several years and in 1994 the highest grossing movie was The Lion King and one of the biggest albums released was Green Day’s Dookie. In other words Raul has been playing football at Madrid for so long that Vanilla Ice was still releasing rap albums.
And in the last season it became quite clear that Raul’s time at Madrid was winding down and the legend was only used in limited action and scored fewer goals then any other season in his 15 year career. And with the new age of los galiciticos taking over, the time has come for the former captain to pass on the torch to the future legends of the game. But few can match the class of the loyal footballer and in the modern day sticking it out with one team seems to be a dying character trait of the superstar footballer.
And a player of Raul’s skill level and personal character will be missed in La Liga. We wish the longtime Madrid man the best of luck wherever he decides to finish his career.
photo credit: Kıvanç Niş