Raúl González Blanco (born June 27, 1977 in Madrid), simply known as Raúl, is a Spanish football striker who plays for Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid and the Spanish national team. He is a three-time winner of the UEFA Champions League, as well as the competition's all-time leading scorer with 63 goals.

Club career

Raúl has spent his entire club career with Real Madrid. He began the 1994-95 season in Madrid's C-team, scoring thirteen goals in seven games. He became the youngest player (seventeen years and four months) ever to suit up for the senior side, scoring nine times in 28 appearances and winning the 1994-95 league championship in his first season.

He became the first player to score fifty Champions League goals in a 8-5 group stage win over Olympiakos on September 28, 2005, and is the all-time leader in CL appearances with 116.[1]

Raúl scored eighteen goals for the 2007-08 La Liga season, along with five Champions League goals, and was among the top 50 players shortlisted for the 2007 Ballon D'or. He is currently the highest active scorer in the Spanish league with 209 goals, and holds the distinction of having never received a red card at the professional level.[2]

International career

Raúl has a team-record 44 goals in 102 caps for Spain. He earned his first cap against the Czech Republic in October 1996, and took over the team captaincy following the retirement of Fernando Hierro in 2002. He participated in three World Cups from 1998 to 2006, along with Euro 2000 and Euro 2004, scoring at least one goal in each competition.

On March 27, 1999, Raúl scored the 800th goal in national team history during Spain's 9-0 rout of Austria.[3] He then scored the 900th goal three and a half years later in a Euro 2004 qualifier on September 7, 2002 against Greece, which Spain won 2-0.[4]

Raúl became the eighteenth player ever to score in three different World Cup finals after netting in a 3-1 group stage win over Tunisia on June 19, 2006. He was not called up for Spain's victorious Euro 2008 campaign.

Personal life

Raúl's goal celebration consists of kissing his wedding ring as an acknowledgment to his wife, Spanish model Mamen Sanz. They have four sons: Jorge, named after Jorge Valdano; Hugo, named after Raúl's childhood hero Hugo Sánchez; and twins Héctor and Mateo. He enjoys reading, especially the books of Arturo Pérez Reverte, and listening to Spanish music, as well as hunting and watching bullfighting.

Honors and awards

[edit] Real Madrid

* La Liga: 1994-95, 1996-97, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07, 2007–08

* Runner-up: 1998-99, 2004-05, 2005-06

* Copa del Rey

* Runner-up: 2001-02, 2003-04

* Spanish Super Cup: 1997, 2001, 2003, 2008.

* Runner-up: 1995, 2007

* UEFA Champions League: 1997–98, 1999–00, 2001–02
* UEFA Super Cup: 2002

* Runner-up: 2000, 1998

* Intercontinental Cup: 1998, 2002

* Runner-up: 2000

[edit] Individual

* Premio Don Balón (Young Player in La Liga): 1994-95
* IFFHS World Goalgetter: 1999
* ESM Team of the Year: 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-00
* Pichichi Trophy: 1999, 2001
* UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1999-00, 2000-01
* FIFA World Player of the Year Bronze Award: 2001
* European Footballer of the Year Silver Award: 2001
* UEFA Club Football Awards, Best Forward: 2000, 2001, 2002
* Best Spanish player in La Liga: 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2001-02
* FIFA 100
* Trofeo Alfredo Di Stéfano: 2008[6][7]

[edit] Orders

* Royal Order Gold Medal for Sports Merit: 2006[8]