Time to say Good-Bye to a legend.

I said my farewell to Guti yesterday, shedding a few tears while I wrote my tribute to him. Today, I simply do not want to say good-bye. The feeling of emptiness subjugates any other emotion I could possibly have at this moment. I was never an advocate of worshiping other people; but if I had to, only Raul would come close. To have your childhood hero who’s served your club so loyally and so entrancingly leave is an indescribable feeling.

Not only was Raul one of the best footballers that ever lived, he was also an icon and symbol for Spanish Football – especially for Real Madrid. He is a class act both on and off the pitch and is literally one of the most globally respected footballers in the World:

Michel Salgado:
“Raul is the soul of Real Madrid.”

Zinedine Zidane:
“He is a role model for anyone who sets foot on the field of play.”

Ronaldo:
“It is an honor to play alongside someone like Raul.”

Alfredo di Stefano:
“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 in his neighborhood.”

Pele:
“He has the same talent that Brazilian players have.”

Maradona:
“Raul is a genius who has managed to maintain the same level of play for so many years.”

Guus Hiddink:
“He is the kind of player that every coach wants on his team.”

Fabio Capello:
“He is my favorite forward. He has the instinct of an assassin.”

Iker Casillas:
“Raul is a symbol of Real Madrid. A great captain is defined by ups and downs, knowing how to always make the best of any situation. Raul is an example of professionalism and he helped me grow as a player and person. The incredible histories of clubs are written by great footballers, and Raul is one of them.”

Cristiano Ronaldo:
“Playing by Raul’s side has been an honor. I always dreamed of doing so as a kid. It was an honor to share the same dressing room and I wish him all the best.”

Xabi Alonso:
“Raul represents the values of Real Madrid. He is a symbol and a part of this club’s history. It isn’t easy to play for Real Madrid for 15 years, but he did because is a magnificent player.”

Kaka:
“Raul is an amazing player and an important member of this club. Raul will forever be a part of Madridismo and his leaving is a sad day for fans and teammates.”

Drenthe:
“Raul is a genteman of football and a wonderful captain. He was always very nice to me and looked after me.”

Pepe:
“The 16 years that he played here speak words about his talent. He holds a special place in my heart because he always followed my progress when I was injured. He got off from the bench and accompanied me to the dressing room, which was an incredible gesture that I will never forget. He is a huge piece of Real Madrid history.”

Lass:
“I am very happy to have played with him. I remember watching him play when I was a little boy. He has helped me a lot since I came to Madrid. I will always say that I had the privilege to play with Raul at Real Madrid.”

Dudek:
“Raul is an incredible professional and an example for everyone on and off the pitch. He is a great person. It was a pleasure having played by his side.”

Benzema:
“Raul is a role model for all football players, especially the youngest ones. He is a great person and a symbol of Real Madrid and Spanish football. He is a fantastic forward and a very effective player.”

Adan:
“A piece of Real Madrid’s history is leaving. He is an icon and great captain. He is role model for all players who rose up through the academy. His is an example of excitement, hard work and professionalism. It was a pleasure to share a dressing room with Raul and I wish him all the best in the future.”

Marcelo:
“Raul won’t forget us and we won’t forget him. He is a symbol of everything Real Madrid.”

Gago:
“An emblem of Real Madrid is leaving; one of those players that all fans identify with. It was a pleasure to play with Raul and to share a dressing room with him. I wish him all the best on both a personal and sporting level.”

So what will we remember Raul for? I’ll remember him most for his intelligence and cleverness on the pitch. I believe that Fernando Hierro said it best when he said: “Raul is not a 10 in anything, but he is a 9 in everything”. I have never seen any footballer be able to chip the ball over the goalkeeper for a goal so effortlessly the way Raul has been known for doing. His natural position was a support striker right behind the ‘#9’. His unselfishness, clever through passes, and deadly finishing made him form a deadly and unforgettable combo. with his strike partners in 3 different eras – Morientes, Ronaldo, and Ruud Van Nistelrooy. I will also always remember all that he has done against the eternal enemy – Barca. He always managed to put a dagger in the hearts of Catalunya. Never to be forgotten is the moment where he put his finger to his lips to silence the Camp Nou.

Below I have posted his achievements, pictures, some of my favorite moments from him, and a ‘good-bye’ video. So farewell Raul. You were the reason I began watching the beautiful sport in the first place and will always have a place in my heart. Real Madrid will not be the same without your prodigious presence. Gracias Capitan. I will await your return as a coach.

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Goal-Scoring Records

Titles Won

Individual Accolades

Matches Played

Goal-Scoring Count

“Today is a very difficult day in my career as a footballer. I tried to give my very best in every play, every dribble, every shot and every gesture on the pitch. “I love almost everything about playing football and I want to hold on to the feeling of being a player. I’ve always done my utmost on the pitch. The word surrender doesn’t exist for me or Real Madrid.

“I’d like to thank everybody for their support throughout the years. The fans, my team-mates, coaches, presidents and the press. I want to say a special word of thanks to my family. I’d be nothing without them. I also want to wish Alfredo Di Stefano a speedy recovery.

“I will always be ready if Real Madrid need me. Hala Madrid!,”