Raul Gonzalez: Real Madrid's Greatest Ever Servant?

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IFebruary 16, 2009

When you think of Real Madrid, a plethora of great players come to mind. Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, and Zinedine Zidane are just three of football's true legends to have pulled on the famous white shirt.

Others include Francisco Gento, Raymond Kopa, Hugo Sanchez, Roberto Carlos, Iker Casillas, Figo, Ronaldo, David Beckham, and Fabio Cannavaro.

Yet one man, it could be argued, eclipses them all when it comes to serving the great club: Raul Gonzalez.

Since his debut in 1994, Raul has been the golden boy of both Madrid and, until recently, Spain. His loyalty, coupled with his fantastic ability, has endeared him to fans all over the world.

Increasingly few players can claim to be a one-club man, but Raul is part of that exclusive group.

It was yesterday that he claimed perhaps the most apt reward possible for all his years of service. Raul's brace against Sporting Gijon last night brought his 308th and 309th goals for the club, breaking the long-standing record once held by the great Alfredo Di Stefano.

Raul may not have helped Madrid to five consecutive European Cup triumphs as Di Stefano did, but Di Stefano had arguably the greatest club side ever assembled around him.

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Even the fact that Di Stefano reached his tally almost 300 games earlier than Raul managed won't be able to take away the joy the Spaniard is rightly feeling.

It is the second time Raul has broken a long-standing goalscoring record held by Di Stefano. In 2005 he surpassed Di Stefano's 49 goals in the Champions League (or European Cup).

Again, it took Raul considerably more games to do so but, while he may not be quite as prolific as Di Stefano, he has proved that he can rival him as a goalscorer.

So here is a hearty congratulations to Raul from me on an astounding achievement. He has spent 15 years at one of the world's biggest clubs, playing 683 times and scoring 309 goals. He must be doing something right.

He may not be the best in Real Madrid's history—although he isn't far off—but I challenge anyone to name a player who has given more to Madrid than this man. He is often overlooked when it comes to naming the modern greats of the game but, for me at least, he is right up there.

Congratulations to Raul—the greatest servant in Real Madrid history!

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