SOCCER

Raúl on the move: “My future is not in Europe”

Former Real Madrid striker says he won't stay at Schalke 04 next season

Spanish striker Raúl says he will leave German side Schalke 04 at the end of this season.
Spanish striker Raúl says he will leave German side Schalke 04 at the end of this season.FRIEDEMANN VOGEL / BONGARTS / GETTY IMAGES

Raúl González remains the top marksman in European competitions and Cristiano Ronaldo still has some way to go — 121 goals — before he threatens the old number 7’s tally for Real Madrid in La Liga.

The iconic striker left the Bernabéu in 2010 when he was informed he was surplus to requirements by José Mourinho and resisted the temptation to take petrol dollars, or their US equivalent, to float into semi-retirement in the UAE or the States. Instead, he went to Schalke 04, won the German Cup, reached the semifinals of the Champions League and leaves his team in a good position to return to Europe’s top competition next season. In two seasons, Raúl has scored 39 times for the club. “They said he was coming here on holiday,” said Schalke teammate Sergio Escudero. “He has shut a few people up.”

However, the striker will not be wearing Royal Blue next season: “It is not easy to say goodbye,” Raúl said at a packed press conference on Thursday. “I have felt at home here, but my family comes first and I want to give them the time I have not been able to over the years. I will always keep these two years in my heart. I want to thank the club for their patience, the technical staff and the fans, who have supported me unconditionally since I arrived.”

Raúl said he had offers from Spain but will not play again “in a country with a powerful league. My future is not in Europe.” The sound of checkbooks opening the world over will have accompanied the former Real player’s statement.