The New York Cosmos announced today that former Spanish national team captain Raúl González Blanco has signed a multi-year contract to join the club for the 2015 North American Soccer League campaign, pending a physical. As per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Raúl will also take on an additional role as technical advisor for the New York Cosmos Youth Academy, which is slated to open in 2015. Upon his retirement from playing, Raúl will assume a full-time role overseeing the academy.
“Everyone throughout the soccer world knows the Cosmos name and the legacy of the players that played for this team previously,” Raúl said. “They helped establish soccer in America and I’m honored to follow in their footsteps. I believe in this club’s vision and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Raúl built a legendary career at the famed Spanish club Real Madrid – beginning his professional career with the team in 1994 and remaining with Los Blancos for 16 years, leading the club to six La Liga titles, four Spanish Super Cups, and three UEFA Champions League titles. He left Real Madrid in 2010 as the team’s all-time leading goal scorer and moved to German club FC Schalke 04. At Schalke, Raúl scored 40 goals in 98 total matches, leading the Bundesliga outfit to the Champions League semifinal in 2011, before departing for Al-Sadd Sports Club in 2012.
“We’re obviously thrilled to add a player of his quality to the team,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “Raúl’s skill and ability is world renowned. He’s a world-class player and he adds a whole new dimension to our attack.
“He also brings immense passion and knowledge that he can share with our team and with the next generation of Cosmos players in our youth academy. He’ll help set the academy training curriculum, structure and establish our player development pyramid.”
Raúl, 37, a native of Madrid, became the youngest player – 17 years and 124 days – in history to play for Real Madrid at the time of his professional debut.
He would go on to make 550 La Liga appearances and 741 total appearances for Real – both club records, and serve as captain from 2003-2010, while scoring a club-record 323 total goals across all competitions. His 228 goals in La Liga are also a Real Madrid record and the fourth highest total all-time in Spanish league history.
Raúl led La Liga in goals scored in the 1998-99 and 2000-01 seasons and was awarded the Don Balón award for best Spanish player in La Liga a record five times (1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, and 2001-02).
In addition, Raúl is the all-time leading goal scorer in UEFA Champions League history with 71 goals and ranks fourth all-time in Champions League appearances (144). He was awarded the UEFA Best Forward of the Year Award a record three times (1999-00, 2000-01, 2001-02), finished second in the 2001 Ballon d’Or voting for best player in Europe, and finished in third place in the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year voting.
Raúl debuted for the Spanish national team in 1996 and scored 44 goals (second-most in Spanish national team history) in 102 caps during 10 years of suiting up for La Roja. He served as captain of the Spanish national team and participated in three FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Championship tournaments with Spain.
“Raúl’s long list of accolades speaks for itself. He’s recognized worldwide as one of the greatest players of his generation and we are now thrilled to welcome him to New York,” Chief Operating Officer Erik Stover said.
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