Raul Gonzalez Blanco has left the pitch for the last time.
On Sunday Real Madrid legend Raul, 38, called time on an illustrious 21-year career as he and the New York Cosmos won the 2015 North American Soccer League (NASL) title.
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Raul’s 1,034th and final game came in Long Island as the Cosmos beat the Ottawa Fury 3-2 (see the highlights in the video above) to seal a second NASL crown in three seasons since they were relaunched in the second incarnation of the NASL. Argentine forward Gaston Cellerino scored a hat trick to steal the spotlight with Raul assisting on his third strike.
True, it may not have been the most salubrious of locations for Raul’s glittering career to end but after dazzling for Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, winning three UEFA Champions League trophies and six La Liga crowns in his 16-year professional career with his hometown club, it was fitting that one of the greatest goalscorers in history finished by winning yet another trophy.
Speaking in Spanish to the media after the game, Raul had mixed emotions as the Spaniard officially retired from the game.
“Today was my last game to finish my career, and I’m very proud of everything I did,” Raul said. “I’ve been lucky enough to play in World Cups, Euro Cups, Champions League, and to win them, but this is soccer to me. To play on artificial turf, in front of crowds, in front of no one. I’ve been able to live all the experiences before I was a professional and a nobody, and after when I had achieved a lot of things. I’ve always enjoyed and I think I will continue to enjoy things from this game, but no longer as a professional player. I’ve lived very special moments. It would be an injustice to just name one because they were all so special. The most important thing I can think of now is the accomplishment today.”
Raul scored nine goals in 32 games this season for the Cosmos as the predatory forward has spent the last four seasons away from Spain with spells at Germany side Schalke and Al Saad in Qatar.
However, Raul will be remembered forever for his exploits in Real’s famous number seven jersey as he scored 323 goals in 741 games. The videos below show Raul being hoisted into the air by his teammates at James M Shuart Stadium in front of a record crowd for an NASL title game of over 10,000, while other clips of the Cosmos celebrating the success are below.
Also retiring after the win was former Spanish international midfielder Marcos Senna, 39, as he and Raul went out on top.