The New York Cosmos have announced the signing of former Real Madrid striker Raul.
The club, which plays in the North American Soccer League beneath Major League Soccer, said the 37-year-old Spaniard had signed a multi-year contract, starting from the 2015 season, and would also serve as a technical advisor for the club’s new academy, which is due to open next year.
"Everyone throughout the soccer world knows the Cosmos name and the legacy of the players that played for this team previously," Raul said on the club’s website.
"They helped establish soccer in America and I’m honored to follow in their footsteps. I believe in this club’s vision and I’m excited to be a part of that."
The Cosmos made their name in the original version of the North American Soccer League when the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto signed up to play in the fledgling league.
Pele now serves as the honorary president of the current Cosmos, a club reborn in 2010 with the intention of securing a place in Major League Soccer.
However, in one of the most recent rounds of MLS expansion they were trumped by the newly formed New York City FC – a team backed by Manchester City and the New York Yankees that is due to begin play next year with another Spanish striker, David Villa, spearheading their attack.
But that has not dented the ambitions of the Cosmos owners, as the addition of Raul is intended to demonstrate.
"We’re obviously thrilled to add a player of his quality to the team," head coach Giovanni Savarese said. "Raul’s skill and ability is world renowned. He’s a world-class player and he adds a whole new dimension to our attack.
"He also brings immense passion and knowledge that he can share with our team and with the next generation of Cosmos players in our youth academy. He’ll help set the academy training curriculum, structure and establish our player development pyramid."
Raul’s deal with the Cosmos allows for him to take over the running of the club’s academy after his retirement from playing.
Raul spent 16 years with Real Madrid, winning six La Liga titles, four Spanish Super Cups, and three Champions League crowns before moving on to Schalke and most recently Al-Sadd Sports Club. He remains the all-time leading scorer in the Champions League with 71 goals.
"Raul’s long list of accolades speaks for itself," Cosmos chief operating officer Erik Stover said. "He’s recognized worldwide as one of the greatest players of his generation and we are now thrilled to welcome him to New York."