Striker Raul announces Real Madrid exit

BY foxsports • July 26, 2010

Striker Raul Gonzalez announced Monday he will leave Real Madrid after 15 seasons, with Germany or England his likely destination.

Madrid's all-time leading scorer made a statement at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in front of fans and flanked by new Madrid coach Jose Mourinho and club president Florentino Perez.

''The moment had arrived, no?'' Raul said. ''You get the feeling that this had to end. It's been many years ... and it was a decision that took a lot of time. (But) I'd like to keep playing and competing.''

The 33-year-old forward said discussions with Bundesliga club Schalke are at an advanced stage.

''I want to experience another type of football, a different culture - that's an important challenge in life,'' Raul said. ''This afternoon or tomorrow I'll decide on my future. But all of my attention today is on my farewell.''

Raul, who had one year remaining on his contract with Real Madrid, said he also traveled to the United States and China to study offers as he looks to continue playing.

''German or English football - those are the only two places I would go,'' Raul said of his future destination. ''My motivation is to keep playing football.''

Perez's return to Real Madrid last summer sparked a ?250 million spending spree and with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema, Raul found himself mostly relegated to the bench. He scored seven goals in 39 games.

Raul made his Madrid debut as a 17-year-old in 1994 and spent his entire career at the club - a span that includes three Champions League triumphs, six Spanish league titles and two Intercontinental Cups.

He leaves with 228 league goals for Madrid, and a record 44 goals in 102 appearances for Spain. He is also the leading scorer in UEFA competitions with 66 goals, including 64 in the Champions League.

''I'm sure if I stayed I would play, and a lot,'' said Raul, who passed Alfredo Di Stefano last year as the club's leading scorer. ''But in this moment my body is asking for something else.''

Raul's departure comes a day after midfielder Jose Maria ''Guti'' Gutierrez also announced his departure after 15 years. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas is the only player left in Madrid's starting lineup who came from the club's academy.

While more than 80,000 fans packed the Bernabeu last year to welcome Ronaldo, only a couple of thousand were on hand to say goodbye to a player who came to represent Madrid best while ''galacticos'' came and went.

''I will always be available to Madrid for whatever it needs me,'' Raul said.

Perez said this ''is not so much a goodbye as an ''hasta luego'' (see you soon) - this will always be your home.''

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