(Reuters) – Former Real Madrid forward Raul, the Spanish giants’ joint-record scorer, will hang up his boots in November after a stellar 21-year career as one of the game’s finest talents.
Raul, who now plays for the New York Cosmos, won an impressive haul of trophies while at the Bernabeu, including three Champions League crowns and six La Liga titles.
The 38-year-old will retire at the end of the North American Football League (NASL) season having made his debut in April for the Cosmos who play one tier below Major League Football.
“When I signed for the New York Cosmos in December, I said I would evaluate how I felt towards the end of the year and assess whether I would continue to play,” Raul said in a statement.
“My decision is to retire from playing at the end of this season. I am fully focussed on finishing the season strong and helping the New York Cosmos win the NASL Championship. In the coming months I will decide the next step in my career.”
Raul, who shares Real’s scoring record with Cristiano Ronaldo, having netted 323 times in 741 games, also serves as a technical adviser for the Cosmos youth academy and is expected to take over on a full-time basis after he retires.
“Playing football has been part of my life for so long and the decision to retire is not an easy one but I believe it is the right time,” said Raul, who made his Spain debut in 1996 and scored 44 goals in 102 internationals over 10 years.
“I’m thankful to everyone who has supported me throughout my career and I look forward to playing my final games with the New York Cosmos over the coming weeks.”
After a spell in Atletico Madrid’s academy, Raul joined local rivals Real in the 1992-93 season. He made his debut for “Los Blancos” in October 1994 in a league game at Real Zaragoza.
He left Real in 2010 and joined Schalke 04, helping the Bundesliga side reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2011.
He moved to Al-Sadd Sports Club of Qatar in 2012, before joining the Cosmos, who won the NASL’s spring season title and have lost only one home game in 18 months to sit third in the table with a place in the four-team Championship assured.
Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said: “Raul is one of the world’s most iconic players. I knew when we signed him what he would bring on pitch but his knowledge, passion, professionalism and commitment has exceeded my expectations.”
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Toby Davis)