Raúl González Blanco, popularly known as Raul, is a former Spanish footballer. The veteran footballer was among the world’s most sought after player during his days. He was a prominent member of Spanish teams at 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, neighbourhood 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 youth setup of Atletico Madrid.
In 1992, he moved to the youth’s academy of the very prestigious Real Madrid and learnt the know-hows of the game.
In 1994, 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 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.
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.
In 2014, he signed US based club, New York Cosmos, Raúl scored four times as the undefeated Cosmos won the spring season with five wins and five draws.
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 U-21 side that played 1996 UEFA European Championship.
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.
On 5 March 2014, Raúl announced he would retire from professional football at the end of the Qatari football season, marking the end of a 20-year-long senior career.
But he returned back to the professional arena on 30 October 2014 while playing for New York Cosmos and scored 8 goals in his 28 appearances of the season.
The Cosmos finished with the best regular season record, winning the North American Supporters’ Trophy, and Raul retired from his professional career at the end of the season.
His last assignment at the international level was against Northern Ireland on 6 September, in a 3–2 defeat in Belfast, a match in which he hit the post late on.