Raul Gonzalez attended the press conference earlier today as a preview to the Bernabeu Trophy game involving Real Madrid and Al Sadd. The game would also act as a tribute to former captain where he would play a half apiece for both teams.
Emilio Butragueno accompanied Raul into the press room. Buitre introduced Raul by saying:
It is a pleasure to be before a football legend, a man who has earned the respect and admiration of the football world for his professionalism. An example for everyone, for society, for young people and where the new generation should look and those who want to be football players. Raul, I want to thank you on behalf of the club for each practice session and each game you played and did your best to help the club and I know that tomorrow is a special day for you but is also for Madrid because Real Madrid loves you and it is going to be a magical night.
Thereafter Raul answered questions from multiple media outlets.
Q. What are your feelings before returning to Bernabeu?
Raul: Its different, its new. I’m sure it will be an emotional game and I come with my team but I do it with the hope of returning to wear the shirt of Real Madrid which I wore with much pride and defended each year. I was here three years ago to say goodbye but could not say it to all. Tomorrow I can. I was very emotional to see all tickets sold out, to see people come to see me at the airport and the hotel. I will see how I react tomorrow.
Q. Today you went to Valdebebas. What do you make of the sports city?
Raul: I really liked the new residences. With how things progress in Madrid, these facilities will help a lot of players. Valdebebas now breathes football.
Q. What do you expect from the fans?
Raul: I am hoping for a great party. I am happy because my family and my friends are here. My sons can see me with the shirt and playing with Cristiano Ronaldo. I don’t ask anything from the people, I’ve always given all and if someone owes me something, I’ve had the pleasure the score more goals for the love.
Q. Looking forward, do you see yourself returning to the club?
Raul: At the moment I feel like a player, I feel well and I have another year. Will then take the decision that is most convenient. Returning to Madrid is always in my mind and when you think you can help the club, I will be happy to return. First I have to have a period of transition, learn and see if I’m ready to help.
Q. What values have you had at Al Sadd?
Raul: Last year we won the league and this year we look forward to playing in the Asian Champions League. Its a club with good prestige in the Arab countries and we have good players and a competitive team. Recently the team won the Champions and played in the Club World Cup against Barcelona. Everyone has great enthusiasm and we’re aware of the differences, but we want to set a good image.
Q. Do you think that this game will remove the bad memories?
Raul: I would not change anything that happened in these three years. Now I’m happy to live with this situation, which for various reasons we have been before and in fact, if Madrid had won the Copa del Rey I could not accept it. I’m happy to be with people that have given me so much love and that my team can play in this stadium, which for me is the most emotive.
Q. How has the course been over these three years?
Raul: Whenever you go out and know other cultures you are enriched at all levels, personally and in football … it is true that the first few months in Germany I suffered a lot, it was another way to train. Now is a transition period in search of what may be the future.
Q. You left Madrid three years back and at Schalke you proved you still had the gas. Why did you leave?
Raul: I felt that my time here was over. Had the wish to experience something new and therefore had to move to realise that. That made me feel more liberated, concentrate on playing. Day by day in Madrid it became complicated.
Q. What are the values of Madrid?
Raul: Hard work, respect, humility, solidarity. When I arrived at 15 years I was taught to play well, to win and to respect everyone. With this shirt it is not a friendly, always have to defend the badge as if it were the last game. That is what the veterans have always tried to convey to the youngsters.
Q. Would you like it if Cristiano retires at Real Madrid?
Raul: I hope he continues and I think he will. Cristiano has been the best investment in recent years. Never gets tired of winning and always gives his all. Wish he renews and continues here. If so, we’ll all be happy.
Q. About Casillas
Raul: Everyone knows Casillas has given all for Madridismo. Now need to be united and go in the same direction and that is what Casillas is doing. The final decision is of the manager. I’ve seen it well, looking forward and fight to give most for Madrid and for national team. A game or a month means nothing because Iker wants to be here, at home.
Q. About Bale
Raul: He’s a dominating player and a difference maker. Behind Cristiano and Messi he is the one comes with more thrust. Everyone in the world would want him and it seems that Madrid will make an effort. If so is because he can be important. Regarding its price, performance will tell if it is worth it.
Q. Have you gotten used to living in Qatar? What do you miss?
Raul: I get used to everything but the heat was too much to bear in the summer. I’m with my family and what I miss is having less contact with my friends, but they come to visit.
Q. About the project
Raul: What I have seen, excites me a lot but takes time to work. Needs training and matches but the squad is the best in the history. They have a lot of quality.
Q. Differences from three years ago?
Raul: Is Raul with the same desire to play football. I feel good and have to wait, I’ll take the decisions every year and after analyzing’ll see what I want to do.