Raul: The greatest striker ever?

Raúl González Blanco has a couple of decent tags to his name: All time top scorer in the Champions league, all time top scorer at Real Madrid, third top goal scorer in La Liga and second top scorer of the Spanish national side. Not a bad career is it? So when we talk about top strikers, why is Raúl not the first name that pops into your head? He’s quite simply one of the best, if not the best striker in past decade; arguably in the history of football.

Raúl started his career with Real Madrid’s rivals Atlético, where he spent two years in the youth side, winning a national title. But the then President of the club, Jesús Gil, closed down the youth academy, leaving Raúl with little to no chance of making the first team squad. He decided to go to Real Madrid’s academy, where he was promoted all the way from the ‘Juvenil C’ team up through the ranks to the main squad.

Jorge Valdano was the man that gave Raúl his chance to shine. He gave the striker a taste of first team football at the age of just seventeen years, one hundred and twenty four days old, when he replaced the all mighty Real striker, Emilio Butragueño. It was seen at the time as an iconic moment, a passing on the crown if you like. Raúl wasted no time with the chance and the confidence shown in him by Valdano shone through. He was right in about the action, setting up a goal on his début, followed by his first home appearance which came just a week later, in which he scored in the derby match against Atlético; a game which Real went on to win 4-2. His first season ended with him scoring nine goals in twenty-eight appearances, mostly off the bench, but helped Real Madrid to the title in the 1994/1995 season.

Over the next fifteen years, Raúl went on to be, simply put, the best striker in the world. He won fifteen trophies in those fifteen seasons, three Champions League successes, six La Liga titles and a multitude of other top trophies He also went on to win a staggering twenty eight individual awards, which included winning a record breaking five Don Balon awards, a silver award in the Ballon d’Or and the bronze trophy in the 2001 FIFA world player of the year. He’s the top goal scorer in the Champions League, scoring seventy-one goals in just under one hundred and fifty matches.

Raúl eventually left Real Madrid in the 2010 season, stating he didn’t want to be just a fourth or five choice striker and signing a two year contract with German club Schalke 04. He has had a successful time winning the DFB-Pokal (the German domestic cup) in his first season and the curtain-raising DFB Supercup in the current campaign. He managed to score just under twenty goals in 2010-11 with the club; arguably his most important of those came in the semi-final match of the DFB-Pokal, against rivals Bayern Munich, which sent them to their first final since 2005.

At national level, Raúl never managed to win either the World Cup or European Championship, but put his name down in the history books, being capped over a hundred times for Spain; the first outfield player to achieve such a feat. He also managed to bang in forty-four goals in one hundred and two games for Spain. His international career ended somewhat sourly, however, his last game a 3-2 defeat against Northern Ireland, following which he was omitted from the Spanish sides that won both the European Championship in 2008 and the World Cup in 2010. A bitter pill to swallow.

For a forward who is coming to the end of his career, Raúl has had a fantastic scoring and appearance record, nearly three hundred and fifty goals in close to eight hundred matches in all competitions for all teams, national and club level. Two goals in Champions League finals is not to be sniffed at, either. It’s difficult to disagree that Raúl is one of the top three strikers the game has ever seen, and above all a gentleman, holding yet another record as being just one of a few players never to have been sent off in his career. It’s hard not to love a true legend of the game that is Raúl González Blanco.raul-the-greatest-striker-ever/raul-7/” rel=”attachment wp-att-67159″>

Edited by Staff Editor
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