Raul: United was an option

The teams meet in the Champions League semi-final first leg on

Tuesday with the former Spain striker enthusiastic about life in

the Bundesliga, where he has a contract until 2012 but has

expressed a desire to possibly play on after that. United were

linked with the 33-year-old last summer before he moved to Germany

and Raul confirmed there was contact with the Old Trafford club. He

said: “There were a couple of possibilities and United was one but

the only person who knows just how close, is (Sir) Alex Ferguson.

“I never spoke to him personally but there were contacts with

United. “Before deciding to come to SchaIke thought about England,

where I had a couple of offers. “I love the footballing culture

there, the respect for the game, the atmosphere, the intensity.

“I’ve been at Old Trafford, Arsenal, at Liverpool watching Fernando

Morientes and it’s special. “I fancied the idea. I wanted to try

something different. But I’ve been able to experience that here.”

Raul also expressed his admiration for Ryan Giggs, saying: “He’s a

great professional who looks after himself. “Giggs and (Paul

Scholes) are players for whom I have an enormous admiration. “I

would love to swap shirts with Ryan Giggs after the game. It would

be a great honour.” Schalke will go into the first leg at the

Veltins-Arena as underdogs with the prospect of facing his old side

in the final with Real facing Barcelona in the other semi-final.

Raul said: “We dream of beating United. “Let’s see if we’re the

better team. Logic says United will be – but we’ll try.”