Two of Raul Gonzalez’s former clubs meet in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday night: Real Madrid and Schalke.
It means there is no better time to remember the legendary striker’s 10 most important goals wearing the famous white shirt of the nine-time European Cup winners—a competition he is the leading scorer of.
From his first to his last, from cup winners to El Clasico strikes, the following slides incorporate some of Raul’s most important goals in over a 16-year spell in Los Blancos’ first team.
In Raul’s tender years in the Real Madrid first team, there remained a narrative due to the fact he had started out at Atletico before arriving at the Bernabeu.
It made his participation in the capital city derby that little bit more special.
So when he scored goals like this, beating men for fun inside the penalty area, the significance was more than just another goal in another Real Madrid derby win—this was a reminder to Atleti about what they had let go.
He might not have known it at the time, but Raul’s goal against Real Zaragoza at La Romareda on April 24, 2010 proved his last.
Quite fitting then that it came with his last touch, considering the amount of goals he scored at Real Madrid.
Raul had already signalled to the bench that he needed to be withdrawn but, as Madrid ventured forward, he managed to find one last burst of energy to join in and, ultimately, put the ball in the back of the net.
He was then replaced by Karim Benzema.
After a 0-0 draw at the Bernabeu in the first leg of the 1999/2000 Champions League quarterfinal, Manchester United had reasons to be optimistic about their chances of dumping Real Madrid out of the competition.
They didn’t count on the presence of Raul though.
A first half Roy Keane own goal gave the Spanish side the lead, before a quick-fire double from Madrid’s No. 7 put the game out of the home side’s reach.
David Beckham and Paul Scholes did pull goals back, but United couldn’t turn the game around after Raul’s two goals.
The 2000 Champions League final is best remembered for a great Steve McManaman strike, but Raul also played his part seeing off Valencia—just in case he hasn’t already done enough on the run to the final.
He was sent racing forward, clean through, from the halfway line and perfectly executed his finish, dragging the ball around the goalkeeper and rolling the ball home.
Real Madrid won the match 3-0, Raul’s 75th minute cherry on the cake coming after McManaman and Fernando Morientes’ earlier goals.
Raul is still the Champions League’s all-time top scorer.
He sits at the top of the tree with 71 goals, although Lionel Messi and, a bit further back, Cristiano Ronaldo are breathing down his neck.
Still, even if/when they overtake him, he’ll still have plenty of reasons to be positive—like the above strike against Barcelona in the semifinal, for example, or this trademark chip against Anderlecht.
Cut adrift by an Atletico Madrid side who weren’t quite sure what to do with young footballers, Raul found his way to Real Madrid and the rest, as we regularly say, is history.
And it just so happened that his first goal in Los Blancos’ colours came against Atletico.
In only his second appearance for the club, a week after his debut, he scored his first goal against his first club in November 1994—almost 20 years ago!
What a cracking finish too.
Goals against Sporting Gijon wouldn’t usually feature so high, but these ones carried great meaning for both Raul and the Real Madrid history books.
At El Molinin in February 2009, he caught Sergio Ramos’ cross on the half-volley and, as it flew into the net, he became the club’s top goal scorer of all-time.
Alfredo Di Stefano had previously held the record with a tally of 307, Raul now had 308 and he would go on to finish his Madrid career 323.
With his finger to his lips, Raul rolled away and a deadly hush fell around Camp Nou.
It is an image which can often be found in El Clasico compilations. Raul had just ghosted in between two defenders, lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and opened the scoring against Barcelona.
The Catalans did pick themselves up after being told to shhh though, bouncing back to lead 2-1, only for Raul to have the last say.
The Madrid legend scored a late equaliser to share the points.
If Raul’s goal in the Champions League final in 2000 was more circumstantial than important, his goal two years later certainly played its part in Real Madrid getting their hands on the trophy.
With the match less than 10 minutes old against Bayer Leverkusen, he opened the scoring.
The Germans did equalise, but the final would go on to be remembered for Zinedine Zidane’s spectacular volleyed winner.
You all know the one.
Tap-ins, headers, golazos or penalties—a striker, unless their name is Mario Balotelli, will celebrate any goal, no matter the type.
And when that goal is a late winner the celebration is lifted a notch.
And when that goal is a late winner in an Intercontinental Cup final the celebration is lifted up another notch.
Raul’s late goal in 1998, against Vasco da Gama in that very competition, ticked the boxes for quality, timing and significance as Real Madrid clinched the trophy in front of 51,514 fans in the National Stadium in Tokyo.
The Spanish side lead through a Nasa own goal, but a strike from Juninho had looked set to tip the final into extra time.