Raúl González Blanco, popularly known as Raul, is a former Spanish footballer. The veteran footballer was among the world’s most sought-after players during his days. He was a prominent member of Spanish teams in different junior age groups and then the core national team of Spain. He also played for some popular clubs like Atletico Madrid, Schalke, Al Sadd, New York Cosmos and Real Madrid.
Raul was born on 27 June 1977 in San Cristobal de Los Angeles, the neighborhood of Madrid. He started playing football at the age of 10 for the local club, San Cristobal. After playing 3 years for Cristobal, he switched to the youth setup of Atletico Madrid. In 1992, he moved to the youth academy of the very prestigious Real Madrid and learned the know-how of the game.
He was offered his first professional contract by the fourth division Real Madrid C. He made 7 appearances and scored 16 goals in the season. His prolific performance helped him to switch to Real Madrid B and to the core team in the same year. He was also a part of the Dallas Cup victory. He spent the lion’s share of his career for Real Madrid and is the club's second all-time top goalscorer with 323 goals in the 741 appearances. He is also the most capped player in the history of the club. He made his international debut in 1995 for Spanish U20 team in the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The next year he was a part of the U-21 side that played in the 1996 UEFA European Championship.
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With the senior team, Raúl went on for many years to score a national record 44 goals in 102 caps, out of which 6 were scored in the finals of major tournaments. He was swift in FIFA World Cup 2002 and 2006, and helped Spain to secure a decent position of 6 and 3 respectively. His supremacy can be estimated by the fact that he was recognized as the symbol of Real Madrid. Raúl won 6 La Liga titles, 3 UEFA Champions League titles, 4 Supercopa de Espana, 1 UEFA Super Cup and 2 International Cups. In 2003, he was appointed captain of the team and retained that position until his departure from the club in 2010. In 2010, Raul then moved to Schalke 04 under a 2 year contract. He played 66 games and scored 28 goals for the club. Raúl had such an impact at Schalke that, on his departure, the club opted to retire the number 7 shirt for an indefinite period.
In 2012, Raul signed a deal with Qatar based club, Al Sadd, for Stars League. The iconic player took the role of captain, replacing Abdulla Koni. The next year, Al Sadd won the 2012–13 Qatar Stars League title under his captaincy.
Raul spent time at Atletico Madrid academy.
Highest scoring Spaniard ever in European leagues.
Most-capped player in Real Madrid history.
Only three-time FIFA Club Forward of the Year winner.
Over 1000 professional career appearances
Raúl was named the top international goalscorer in the world by International Federation of Football History & Statistics in 1999, and ranked second in the 2001 Ballon d'Or and third in the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year. In 2004, he was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players, and was included in the UEFA list of the 50-best European players of the 1954–2004 period. He was part of the European Team of the Year of European Sports Media in 1997, 1999 and 2000. Raúl won two Pichichi trophies (1999 and 2001), the top goalscorer award of the UEFA Champions League (2000 and 2001), five Don Balón Awards (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 2002 and 2003) and one Best Player Award at the Intercontinental Cup in 1998.