Friday, October 28, 2011

Raúl González

Raúl González Blanco (born 27 June 1977 in Madrid, Spain), known simply as Raúl, is a Spanish footballer who plays as a striker. He currently plays for German club Schalke 04. Raúl had spent most of his career playing for Spanish club Real Madrid up until 2010 and is the club's all-time top goalscorer. Raúl is a three-time winner of the UEFA Champions League and has long been the competition's all-time leading goalscorer. He left Real Madrid on 25 July 2010, having scored 323 goals in 741 appearances.

Club Career
Youth clubs : Raúl González's career began at his local team C.D. San Cristóbal de los Ángeles playing for their Alevín team and the Infantil the next season. He signed with Atlético Madrid's Infantil team and won a national title with the Cadete team the following season. Following Atlético's then-president Jesús Gil decision to close their youth academy as a cost-saving measure, Raúl moved on to Real Madrid's Cadete team. The following season, he was promoted to the Juvenil C team and subsequently went on to play for their Juvenil B and Juvenil A team.

Real Madrid : Started his professional career in the 1994–95 season with Real Madrid C, he scored 13 goals in just 7 games and swiftly promoted to the first team by coach Jorge Valdano, replacing the legendary figure of Emilio Butragueño in a highly symbolic "passing of the crown". He became the youngest player (17 years and 124 days) ever to play for the senior side, (even though the record was finally broken by Alberto Rivera, at the late of that season) and turned in an outstanding debut performance on 29 October 1994 in an away game against Real Zaragoza in La Romareda, creating a goal for strike partner Iván Zamorano and impressing observers[who?] with all-round play of startling precocity[peacock term], and heralding the demise of Butragueño in the process. The very next week, Raúl scored his first goal in his second senior game on a home debut against the rival and also Raúl's former youth club, Atlético Madrid in a bitter derby match. Duly establishing himself as a fixture in the first team, Raúl registered a total of nine goals in 28 appearances to help Real Madrid win the 1994–95 league championship in his first season.

Over the next eight seasons, Raúl developed into perhaps the leading striker in all of European and world football. With Real Madrid, he won several honours, including further La Liga titles in 1996–97 (scoring 21 La Liga goals), 2000–01 (scoring 24 La Liga goals), and 2002–03 (scoring 16 La Liga goals in a campaign truncated by a bout of appendicitis for which Raúl was hospitalized). During the period 1998–2002, Raúl and Real Madrid also won three UEFA Champions League trophies (1998, 2000 and 2002). For most of this time, Raúl struck up a prolific scoring partnership with Fernando Morientes (and later Ronaldo). Raúl took over the captaincy of Real Madrid when Fernando Hierro was transferred in 2003, a responsibility he held until leaving the club in 2010. Unusually for such a successful and long-serving player, and despite appearing in two finals, 2002 (in which he scored) and 2004, Raúl never lifted the Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup).

He became the first player to score fifty Champions League goals when he netted in a 2–1 group stage win over Olympiacos on 28 September 2005, and continues to be the all-time leader in appearances (128). He was also the first player to score in two Champions League finals, netting in the finals of both 2000 against Valencia in Stade de France, Saint-Denis and 2002 against Bayer Leverkusen in Hampden Park, Glasgow. Samuel Eto'o later equaled this feat, scoring in the 2006 against Arsenal and in 2009 against Manchester United with Lionel Messi also scored in the same match and later scored in 2011 against the same team.

Raúl holds the distinction of having never received a red card throughout his 17 years at the professional level.On 11 November 2008, Raúl scored his 300th goal for Real Madrid with a hat-trick against Real Unión, with Real winning the game 4–3 but being eliminated on away goals after draw 6–6 on aggregate. In total, Raúl scored 323 goals for Real Madrid, breaking the long-standing club record of Alfredo Di Stéfano with a volleyed goal against Sporting Gijon on 15 February 2009. He is also the top active La Liga goalscorer with 228 goals in La Liga matches, and is presently third on the all-time list, which is headed by Telmo Zarra with 252 goals. Raúl holds the record of all-time top La Liga scorer for Real Madrid with 228, a record previously held by Alfredo Di Stéfano.

Raúl and fellow long-serving teammate Iker Casillas were both awarded a 'contract for life' in 2008 (the terms of which stipulate that it will be renewed annually for as long as they play 30 games each season). On 23 September 2009, Raúl equalled former veteran and legend Manolo Sanchís' league appearance record for Real Madrid, and is second in La Liga behind Andoni Zubizarreta who played 622 games.

Raúl's last touch with the ball as Real Madrid player was to score his last goal before an injury ruled him out of action for the rest of that season. It was an opening goal scored on 24 April 2010 in an away game with a 1–2 victory against Real Zaragoza in La Romareda (the stadium where he made his first debut back in 1994) and was scored on 50' minutes after Raúl (himself only on the pitch as a substitute for Rafael van der Vaart on 15' minutes) had signalled that he could not physically continue and was prepared to be substituted by Karim Benzema one minute after the goal. Before the substitution could be made, Real Madrid launched a counter-attack to create a goal. Though Raúl ran to a slow hobble, he shuffled into the box and was able to poke the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo's cross.

Having spent the rest of the season recovering from that injury, the club confirmed on 25 July 2010 that Raúl would be leaving the club, a day after his teammate Guti confirmed he was leaving too after 15 years. Although new coach José Mourinho wanted Raúl to continue, Raúl did not want to spend another season as third or fourth choice striker and he thought that it was better if he left as he was still able to deliver a good performance in another club.

Schalke 04 : Raúl signed a two-year contract with FC Schalke 04 on 28 July 2010, ending speculation about his future. Schalke coach Felix Magath hailed the signing and told the club 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 scored his first goal for the club during his first match on 1 August 2010 with a brace in a 3–1 victory over Bayern Munich in the final match pre-season competition LIGA total! Cup 2010. One week later, he made his official match debut in the 2010 DFL-Supercup on 7 August 2010 against Bayern Munich again, but this time he failed to score in the 2-0 defeat match. Raul made his official Bundesliga debut on 21 August 2010, in a 2–1 defeat against Hamburg. and scored his first goal for Schalke in Bundesliga against Mönchengladbach on 25 September 2010 in a 2–2 draw. After a quiet start he has rediscovered his goalscoring form in the Bundesliga with a brace against St. Pauli on 5 November 2010 in a 3–0 win, and on 20 November 2010 he scored his first hat-trick for the club in a 4–0 win over Werder Bremen. On 18 December 2010 he scored his second hat-trick for Schalke in a 3–0 win against Köln.

Raúl scored another crucial goal on 2 March 2011 in a 0–1 victory over the arch-rival, Bayern Munich in the semifinal of 2010–11 DFB-Pokal. After absent for 6 years, Schalke ultimately reached the finals since 2005. In the final match, they played against MSV Duisburg, the first 2. Fußball-Bundesliga team which reached the final since 2004. Raúl never won a domestic cup with Real Madrid (the Copa del Rey), but on 21 May 2011, in his first season, he finally won a domestic cup and got his maiden trophy with his new club. They won the tournament with a 0–5 win in the Olympiastadion in Berlin. This success was followed with victory two months later on 23 July 2011 in the 2011 DFL-Supercup against the league champions Borussia Dortmund.

In European play, Raul has since become the highest goal scorer in all UEFA competitions with 73 goals, ahead of A.C. Milan veteran Filippo Inzaghi with 70 goals. He scored 71 goals in UEFA Champions League (66 goals with the Castilian and 5 others with Schalke 04) and addition his two goals with the capital side, one goal in 2000 UEFA Super Cup and the other one in 1998 Intercontinental Cup (also commonly referred as known as EUSA Cup). On 22 October 2010, the former Spanish international scored twice against Hapoel Tel Aviv in a 3–1 win, which tied him with German legend Gerd Müller for the most number of European goals. Raúl duly broke this record on 15 February 2011 on his return to Spain, with a crucial away goal in the last 16 tie against Valencia at the Mestalla Stadium in a 1–1 draw. In the quarter-finals, Raúl scored two goals against Inter Milan. He scored one goal in the first leg, a 2–5 away win in San Siro and one goal in the second leg, a 2–1 home win in Veltins-Arena. Schalke progressed to the semi-finals of the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history, where they played against Manchester United. Schalke lost the first game 0–2, which was their first home defeat this season in this tournament and lost again 4–1 in Old Trafford.

International career
Raúl began his Spain career at youth level and represented the nation at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 1995, scoring three goals from five matches. In total, Rául scored 17 goals at the various youth levels for Spain. With the senior team, Raúl went on for many years to score a national record 44 goals in 102 caps for Spain. Though David Villa later equaled Raúl's record in 2010, and surpassed it on 25 March 2011 in the Euro 2012 qualifier.

Of his 44 international goals, Raúl scored 32 goals in competitive games, 6 of which were in the finals of major tournaments and 12 others on friendly games. On 27 March 1999, in Euro 2000 qualifier, Raúl scored four goals, one of his only two international hat-tricks, during Spain's 9–0 rout of Austria. He scored another international hat-trick four days later, against San Marino during the same qualifying tournament.

Raúl is the most-capped outfield player for Spain, with 102 appearances.

Raúl took over the team captaincy following the retirement of Fernando Hierro in 2002 and skippered the national side for four years.

Curiously, Raúl's international career would begin and end with omissions from Spanish squads for European Championships tournaments. In spite of a successful first two seasons of senior football, Raúl was not chosen by then-coach Javier Clemente for Euro 1996 in England. Instead, Raúl had to wait until October 1996 to earn his first senior cap against the Czech Republic, before opening his international goal tally with a strike on his second appearance against Yugoslavia. Raúl went on to participate in three World Cups from 1998 to 2006, along with Euro 2000 and Euro 2004, scoring at least one goal in each of the three World Cup competitions. At 2002 FIFA World Cup, he scored 3 goals in the group phase before injuring himself against the Republic of Ireland in Spain's fourth game and missing the remainder of the tournament.

Raúl has not been chosen for the national team since September 2006, following a 3–2 defeat against Northern Ireland in Belfast (a game in which Raúl hit the post late on), including the UEFA Euro 2008 final tournament, as Luis Aragonés preferred Fernando Torres and David Villa as his first choice strike force. Raúl's clubmate and goalkeeper Iker Casillas succeeded him as captain and also lifted the FIFA World Cup in 2010, which Spain also won.

For many years[quantify], there were whispers[weasel words] that Raúl exercised too much power behind the scenes at both club and international level. In reality, there has always been something of a divide between the Spanish players and the foreign players within the Real Madrid dressing room, both factions distrustful of the other.

Sid Lowe of The Guardian wrote in 2004 that Raúl had tried to undermine Michael Owen during his period with Real Madrid, exerting his influence on then manager José Antonio Camacho, whilst Nicolas Anelka and Cicinho were also critical of Raúl's influence. However, all of Raúl's other teammates[who?] have always spoken of their high regard for him, as both player and man.[citation needed] The utter dignity and professionalism{{[peacock term}} Raúl has displayed when dropped by first Spain and then Real Madrid also undermine the theory that Raúl as a back-stage plotter.[neutrality is disputed] Indeed, two months before Euro 2008, when the clamour[by whom?] for Raúl's return to the Spain squad was at a crescendo, Rául agreed to publicly meet with Luis Aragones to scotch rumours[by whom?] of a fall-out between the two and to plead for the squad to be allowed to get along with their preparations in peace.

Personal life
For many years, Raúl's goal celebration has consisted of kissing his wedding ring as an acknowledgment to his wife Mamen Sanz whom he married in 1999 and with whom he has four sons and a daughter: Jorge, named after Jorge Valdano, Hugo, twins Héctor and Mateo and María. He enjoys listening to Spanish music and reading, especially the books of Arturo Pérez Reverte.

On 16 October 2004, Raúl González Blanco was appointed as FAO Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations.

Real Madrid
    * La Liga: 6 (1994–95, 1996–97, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08)
    * Copa del Rey - Runner-up (2): 2001–02, 2003–04
    * Supercopa de España: 4 (1997, 2001, 2003, 2008)
    * UEFA Champions League: 3 (1997–98, 1999–00, 2001–02)
    * UEFA Super Cup: 1 (2002)
    * Intercontinental Cup: 2 (1998, 2002)

    * Best Spanish player in La Liga: 5* (1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02) (record)
    * European Sports Magazines Team of the Year: 3 (1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–00)
    * UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 1 (2000)
    * UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 2 (1999–2000, 2000–01)
    * UEFA Champions League Best Forward: 3* (1999–2000, 2000–01, 2001–02) (record)

    * Ballon d'Or : Silver award (1) (2001)
    * FIFA World Player of the Year : Bronze award (1) (2001)
    * FIFA 100
    * Golden Foot Award : Runner-up (1) (2009)
    * The World Team of the Decade by Mirror Football: 2009[28]

     * Real Madrid Record Goalscorer: 323 goals
    * Real Madrid Record Appearance Maker: 741 games
    * Real Madrid Record Goalscorer in La Liga: 228 goals
    * Real Madrid Record Appearance Maker in La Liga: 550 games
    * Real Madrid Record Goalscorer in UEFA Champions League: 66 goals
    * UEFA Champions League Record Goalscorer: 71 goals
    * Real Madrid Record Appearance Maker in UEFA Champions League: 132 games
    * UEFA Champions League Record Appearance Maker: 144 games
    * Real Madrid Record Goalscorer in European Competitions: 67 goals*
    * European Competitions Record Goalscorer: 72 goals*
    * Real Madrid Record Appearance Maker in European Competitions: 135 games*
    * Real Madrid Record Goalscorer in UEFA Competitions: 68 goals
    * UEFA Competitions Record Goalscorer: 73 goals
    * Real Madrid Record Appearance Maker in UEFA Competitions: 138 games

# Government of Spain: Royal Order Gold Medal for Sports Merit 2006
# City of Madrid: Gold Medal 2009

From :