In the world of Football, there are countless wonderful stories, but the story of Raul Gonzalez Blanco, named as El Ferrari by the Bernabeu crowd, will be at the top tier among those. From a protege of Atletico Madrid to be one of the best players in Real Madrid history, Raul has written a story throughout his career that will never be forgotten by the world.
When the world witnessed Real Madrid building their modern Galactico XI team by the hands of their newly elected president Florentino Perez since 2000, the most successful Galactico was already present in the club, who had risen through the ranks of Los Blancos, Madrid’s eternal captain, Raul.
Sir Alex Ferguson
“Real buy these big players like Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo but I think the best player in the world is Raúl.”
Mistake of Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid’s benefit
Raul Gonzalez was born on June 26 1977, in the suburb of San Cristóbal de Los Ángeles, Madrid. He began his early days as a footballer with local club CD San Cristobal and then moved to Atletico Madrid youth academy. On his second season there, he won a national title with Atletico Madrid’s infantil team. In 1991, then Atletico Madrid president Jesus Gil praised a lot about the title-winning youth team on a TV interview.saying,
“These are my lads, this team you see here are the champions of Spain. These boys won the league scoring 264 goals in 22 games”.
He was also full of appreciation for 13 years old Raul. He said
“Look, over there, my captain, Raúl González, 55 goals! Remember that name. He is going to be a phenomenon.”
Raul was enjoying a good time at Atletico Madrid youth team, scoring goals, winning titles until it suddenly came to an end when Jesus Gil opted to shut down the youth academy due to financial crisis. Back then Atletico Madrid was going through a critical financial condition and was unable to pay to many of their youth team stuff and managers. Atletico Madrid had one of the best youth systems in Spain. They had eight teams running, two in each category from U12s to U19s until Gil took the decision to completely close his favourite youth academy, and decided to run just two teams – one U15 and U19 side.
This was the time when Raul decided to move to the other part of the Spanish capital and joined La Fabrica – Real Madrid’s youth academy in 1992 and Atletico Madrid lost a gem. Raul would go on to become a Real Madrid legend while rising through the youth ranks of the club and spend 18 years there.
Looks like Gil was right indeed that Raul would become a phenomenon in the world football, but it was meant to happen for another club.
18 years of Glory, becoming ‘The Eternal Captain’
From 1992-2010, Raul Gonzalez has spent 18 long years wearing the Royal White shirt and has gifted countless joyful moments to the fans. He carried the prestigious number 7 of Real Madrid and became a fan favourite through his performance. He won 3 Uefa Champions League title between 1998-2002 and 6 La Liga titles during this time. He took the captain’s armband of the club from another Madrid legend Fernando Hierro in 2003 and stayed until 2010, his final season for the club.
Raul Gonzalez has some all-time records for the club like having most appearances in Real Madrid jersey(741) and scoring second most number of goals for the club(323), just behind CR7. He is also third highest goal scorer in UCL(71) right now right after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi overtook him.
Raul was the heartthrob of Santiago Bernabeu and the crowd never failed to cheer his name whenever he came on the pitch. He has won a lot of trophies, achieved much success for the club as well witnessed a lot of failures. But he never chose to leave the club. He stayed there for 18 years and became the natural leader of the club. When he left the club, he handed his captain’s armband to Iker Casillas and the number 7 jersey to none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. But the Madridistas still love to call him by ‘Captain‘ and he will always be the same for them.
“Raul does something that few players dare to try: he walks into a stadium with 100,000 people watching him and he plays as if he was playing in his neighbourhood.”Alfredo Di Stefano
The bearer of the Spanish Flag
While his Real Madrid career is highly praised by everyone, somehow his international career goes under-appreciated. Make no mistake, he was equally a Spanish legend and probably the most important player of the Spanish national team. He played in various level of international football including U20 World Cup and U21 European Championship. It is sad to say he never won any silverware for his national team. Back then, Spain was not the same team which won the World Cup and back to back Euro Cup in between 2008-2012, even they were considered as underdogs in International tournaments. But Raul was the player who was the reason to fear.
During his career, Raul has made 102 appearances and scored record 44 international goals which was later surpassed by David Villa. Among those 44 goals, 32 came in a competitive match and 6 of which was scored in a final of a major tournament. He was indeed a big game player for his country as well.
Raul Gonzalez made into the top 3 of Ballon D’or title and lost to Michael Owen by 36 points in 2001, he was then only Spanish player to reach the top 3 since Emilio Butragueno in 1987. He also posses the record of scoring most number of goals in European Leagues(256) as a Spanish player.
“My heart will always be with Madrid. Real Madrid is my life and my home.”Raul Gonzalez Blanco
Over the years, Raul Gonzalez has become more than a legend for Real Madrid and to their fans. He was always there for the club in good and bad days. Even after his retirement, he is currently there as manager of Real Madrid Castilla, their reserve team.
What he is to Real Madrid is described in the best possible way in the club’s official website itself – “A Real Madrid symbol. The eternal captain who represented Madrid’s values on the pitch“. To end it this way,
“Raul is the soul of Real Madrid.”Michael Salgado
Do you think Raul Gonzalez is the greatest Madrid legend ever? Let us know in the comment section below.