Today, 29 October 2009, Raul Gonzalez Blanco celebrates his 15-year anniversary as a Real Madrid player. To commemorate the occasion, Realmadrid.com has selected fifteen of the captain’s best highlights and fifteen of his most memorable quotes.
His first goal
“It reflected the hope and excitement of a kid who wanted to be a footballer playing in the Santiago Bernabeu against Atletico Madrid.”
It came against the same team that he played for during his earliest years. Unable to score in his official La Liga debut on 29 October 1994 against Zaragoza, Raul found the back of the net against Atletico Madrid one week later.
Unforgettable goal against Atletico
“I was on the train one day and noticed everyone looking at me… that is when my life started to change.”
By 1996/97 Raul was the talk of the town, but another goal against Atletico increased his legend even further. He evaded two defenders and put the ball past Molina with barely any angle to shoot.
Raul introduces the Aguanis in the Intercontinental Cup
“Fans adore Zidane and Ronaldo, but they know how to appreciate those who grew up here, and no one can take that away from you.”
On 1 December 1998, Raul’s image was plastered around the world following the Intercontinental Cup against Vasco de Gama in Tokyo, where he invented his trademark double stepover and game-winning shot.
“I enjoy the responsibility I have: the fact that kids admire anything I say or do.”
Raul has finished as La Liga’s top scorer on two occasions. The first was in 1998/99 when he scored 25 goals to beat out Rivaldo by one. Two seasons later his 24 were again one better than the Brazilian.
Brace against Barcelona
“There have been many more good days than bad days during my career.”
On 13 October 1999, the forward lobbed in the equalizer in the Camp Nou with four minutes left to play. Raul silenced the stadium with one simple hand gesture, which over time has represented a symbol of contempt towards his critics.
Three Champions League titles
“It was unimaginable several years ago, but I’m already thinking about the next one; you only remember the winner.”
Real Madrid’s 0-1 victory against Juventus on 20 May 1998 put an end to a 32-year drought in Europe. Two years later, on 24 May 2000, the Whites won the Eighth with a 3-0 drubbing against Valencia. Raul scored after a 60-meter scamper and a one-on-one with Cañizares. He also struck gold on 15 May 2002, when Real Madrid won its Ninth with a 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.
“Defending the national team colors is the greatest satisfaction for a Spanish football player.”
Raul made his Spanish team debut on 10 October 1996. A little over ten years later, 15 August 2006 to be exact, he earned his 100th cap against Iceland. The only other player to pass the century mark is Andoni Zubizarreta, but Iker Casillas is one appearance shy of 100.
All-time top scorer for Spain
“When I speak to retired players, they remind me how lucky I am that I am still playing. I want to enjoy this all I can.”
With 44 goals to his name, Raul is the all-time top scorer of the Spanish national team. He is followed by Villa (33), Hierro (29), Morientes (27) and Butragueño (26).
All-time top scorer of the Champions League
“I enjoy it now as much as I did then, when I would cross the entire city to go to the old Real Madrid Sports City.”
Raul is also the all-time top scorer of the UEFA Champions League having scored 66 goals in Europe’s top competition. He is followed by Van Nistelrooy (56), Henry (50), Di Stefano (47), Shevchenko (47), Inzaghi (44) and Del Piero (42). He was also the top scorer of the competition on two occasions. (99/00 and 00/01).
300 victories with Real Madrid
“I feel privileged to be part of Real Madrid, the club that watched me grow as a footballer.”
On 12 April 2009 against Valladolid, Raul became only the third player ever to earn his 300th Primera Division victory. Zubizarreta earned 333 and Sanchis 312. Currently, the captain is sitting on 309.
Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer in La Liga
“Football has memory, which is why we cannot forget where we come from.”
Raul has scored 226 goals around Spain to become the top Madridista scorer of all-time in La Liga. Di Stefano is second with 216, followed by Santillana (186), Hugo Sanchez (164) and Puskas (156).
Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer overall
“I am just as excited to wake up and go train as I was when I started. Football is my passion.”
The Madridista forward has netted 321 goals to become the most prolific Real Madrid goal-scorer ever. He is again followed by Di Stefano (307), Santillana (290), Puskas (236) and Hugo Sanchez (207).
Most league matches played for Real Madrid
“I have had teammates who for one reason or another were lost along the way. Everything went right for me. I am lucky to have made it this far.”
On 23 September 2009 against Villarreal, Raul overtook Manolo Sanchis as the Madridista with the most league matches under his belt. Sanchis reached 523, while Raul now stands at 528.
Most official matches played for Real Madrid
“I have experienced many ups and downs, but it is the affection of all those who I have met along the way that matters most to me.”
Sanchis held the record of 708 official matches played for Real Madrid until 30 September 2009, when Raul took the pitch against Olympique de Marseille for his 709th official appearance. The mark now stands at 714.
Fouth all-time top scorer of La Liga
“Looking back on its history, players and people who have given their hearts and souls to this club, you realize that when you don this shirt you owe it to the millions of fans around the world who expect the best of you.”
Reaching the top spot in this ranking would be the icing on the cake. Raul is the fourth all-time top scorer of La Liga with 226 goals. Ahead of him are Alfredo di Stefano (227), Hugo Sanchez (234) and Zarra (251).