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Raúl González Blanco, the soul of Real Madrid and the Spanish National Team(from Realmadrid.com)

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The Great Captain

Raúl González Blanco, the soul of Real Madrid and the Spanish National Team

Raúl is a unique player. He cannot be judged for a season during which he was able to recover from a severe knee injury thanks to hours and hours of work. His numbers place him among the most elite Spanish footballers of all time, if he isn't already considered the best.

By the start of next season, Raúl will have played 12 seasons in the First Division. It´s been a long time since Jorge Valdano gave the nod to the fast, slender youngster who made the leap from Real Madrid C to the first team after playing only one match with, then, Real Madrid B. On that 29 October, 1994, Raúl made Andoni Cedrún's life impossible, but he was unable to score his first goal with the Real Madrid shirt.

It wouldn't take long for Raúl's scoring debut, and the following weekend, against a rival he has always played well against, Atletico Madrid, Raúl scored the most special goal of his career. The first of a long list that make him won of the top scorers in the history of the League. Raúl's first season ended the best way possible: one of the four League titles that are notched under his belt.

Since then, Raúl has continued to immortalize his legend with Real Madrid. He has always been a starter and a fundamental piece of the team. Valdano, Capello, Heynckes, Del Bosque, Queiroz...all have considered Raúl a basic part in their styles of play. His legend has not only shined in Spain, but at the international level as well.

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THE SEVENTH
By 1997, Raúl was playing in his fourth season, and he had just come off a League title. That year marked the beginning of Real Madrid's European dominance over the last decade. Raúl, along with Mijatovic, Hierro, Sanchís, Redondo, and teammates, raised Real Madrid's seventh European Cup by defeating Juventus in the Amsterdam Arena. Raúl began to be considered as one of the best players in the international arena, and at the age of 23, he was selected as the captain of the Spanish national team that foundered in the 1998 French World Cup. But, the slender attacker did manage to score a trademark golazo against Nigeria.

RAÚLS LA LIGA STATISTICS

SEASON
MATCHES PLAYED
GOALS
94-95
28
9
95-96
40
19
96-97
42
21
97-98
35
10
98-99
37
25
99-00
34
17
00-01
36
24
01-02
35
14
02-03
34
16
03-04
35
11
04-05
32
9
05-06
26
5
TOTAL
411
180

THE AGUANÍS
But 1998 wasn't over, and in the Intercontinental Cup Final against Brazil's Vasco de Gama, Raúl scored one of the most beautiful goals of his career. His famous feint, the ‘Aguanís’, stunned the Brazilian defense and keeper, and Raúl and Real Madrid won the second Intercontinental Cup of the three that are on display in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium's trophy room. The goal was just one of a countless list of golazos by Raúl. For example, when he left López flat on the ground, his incredible shot from outside Ablanedo's box, the missile that hit its target in the corner of Bonano's net in the Champions League semifinal, using his heel against Real Sociedad, his neverending run in the European Cup final versus Valencia, or his multiple lobs such as the ones he scored on Zaragoza, Rayo Vallecano, and Anderletch...just a few great moments on Raúl's infinite list.

 


EUROPEAN BRILLIANCE
Raúl's European trajectory is simply amazing, and he has three European Cups to his name. After winning the first in the Amsterdam Arena, he went on to win two more, in Paris and Glasgow. 2000 was a special year and Real Madrid would face fellow Spanish team, Valencia. It was the first time two teams from the same country met in the Champions League final. The Madridistas won 3-0, which included a Raúl strike. Another of his scores led the way to a 2-1 victory over Bayern Leverkusen in the final of what would be the Club's ninth European Cup. Additionally, Raúl's list of honours includes four Spanish League titles, two Intercontinentals, one European Supercup, and three Spanish Supercups. He has also won numerous awards for his goal scoring capacity, including two-time Top Scorer of the Spanish League, two-time Top Scorer of the Champions League, and two UEFA Bronze Boots.

STATISTICS WITH SPANISH NATIONAL TEAM

MATCHES PLAYED
WINS
LOSSES
DRAWS
GOALS
92
59
21
12
42





Report by Álvaro Velasco
Photos: Realmadrid.com
Translation by Matthew Goltz
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