Real Madrid idol Raul Gonzalez Blanco has been presented as a player for German side FC Schalke 04. The forward has been confirmed to wear his favoured number seven shirt for the upcoming Bundesliga season. The all-time leading scorer at the Bernebau, Raul was welcomed at the Veltins Arena after having signed a two-year contract with his new club.
Schalke midfielder Hao Junmin has reportedly passed up the number seven shirt for the upcoming season, stating it would be an honour to allow the former Madrid captain to wear the number of his choosing. According to reports, the Chinese international will now play wearing the number eight shirt.
As 33 year-old Raul was unveiled as a Schalke player, he showed his delight at moving to last season’s Bundesliga runners-up. He said: "For me this is a very special day, as I'm leaving after 16 years at (Real Madrid). Now I have the desire to take on a new challenge. I come to a very competitive club that is playing in the Champions League and that is fighting for the Bundesliga. Schalke and their coach have shown their confidence in me and from the beginning showed great interest in making this a reality. This is an important challenge. I hope that the fans enjoy the team as well as me, and that we accomplish our goals that we have set for ourselves at the beginning of the season."
The Miners’ Club
Raul posed with two miners and a block of coal, as his new side, located near the mining area of Ruhrgebiet, is known as “The Miners’ Club." He revealed to reporters that he had decided on Schalke as his destination due to the interest the club had shown in him and because they had "what I want in terms of level of competition."
The former Spain international said he is "excited to play and work very hard. I hope that these two years are a marvellous experience. I am sure that everything is going to go very well. I want to score goals, but the most important thing is the team, not the personal objectives. It has been that way for me for the past 16 years."
At Schalke, Raul has been reunited with former Madrid teammate Christoph Metzelder. The 29 year-old German central defender moved to the Bundesliga side on a free transfer earlier this summer. Raul, also known as El Siete (The Seven, after his iconic shirt number), also commented on the possibility of meeting his former club in the Champions League. While he said there “is no clause in my contract that impedes me from playing against Madrid," he conceded that such an event would be “a very special one."
Schalke coach Felix Magath told the club’s official website: “It's great news for FC Schalke 04, I am pleased that we have succeeded in signing such an exceptional footballer and world-class striker switching to the Bundesliga for Schalke 04. He will be an inspiration. His qualities will help us. His commitment is a crucial step in our efforts to strengthen the squad for future tasks, and to restructure. I look forward to working with this good professional."
The player had been with Real Madrid since joining their youth set-up in 1992. His 323 goals in 741 games aided his team to three UEFA Champions League titles and six La Liga Championships. He is also his country’s all-time highest scorer with 44 goals in 102 games for Spain.
The presentation had initially been set to take place behind closed doors, but due to the enormous press attention given to the Madrid legend’s arrival, Schalke fans were allowed access to cheer the arrival of "El Angel del Madrid."