Raul confirms his dream was to retire at Real Madrid and expects he’ll return one day, but not in the next few years.
The former Madrid captain, an icon at Santiago Bernabeu, ended his playing days with New York Cosmos and now works for La Liga in the United States, telling an interview with AS that he has had numerous offers to return to the club with which he is most closely associated.
“Florentino Perez has always offered me a return. Whenever I want. Every time we’re together, he says ‘this is your home.’ In the end I’m the one taking my decisions,” he argued.
“Before I went to Qatar I spoke to Madrid, same as before coming to New York. When I decided to retire from football, I spoke to the President, of course. And I told him my idea was to stay [in New York] and open an office for La Liga.
“He didn’t offer me a particular place in the club. I had made a firm decision, how was he going to offer something concrete in that case? It would have to be a family decision, to want to return to live in Madrid. And from there, to see if I fit in the organisation at that time.
“I’m grateful to Madrid and I know it is my home and that at some point there will be an opportunity to be together again. But in the near future, in the next year or two, I don’t think there will be an opportunity for that. We’ll see in the future.”
Raul then elaborated on when he left Madrid in 2010, explaining that it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision.
“It wasn’t just one day. To leave Madrid, you need many weeks. It wasn’t easy. It was a joint decision. I felt I needed some air,” he admitted, with the interviewer questioning what he meant by that, particularly as he had a productive few years at Schalke.
“It was a situation where I felt it best for me and my family. They were the given circumstances and that was the decision made. I talked to [Jose] Mourinho. Did I talk to Florentino? Look…I was under contract. I could have stayed. It was my initiative and the club helped me because I was there 17 years. The two sides felt it was best. I felt that way. I can only speak to my side.
“It was my dream to retire in Madrid, yes. But I don’t regret it. What came after was superb. I wouldn’t change anything at the end of my career. It was a difficult decision, but it was for the best. I’ve had great experiences.”
It was suggested that when Raul does return, he could do so as President, although the statutes Perez has enacted make it difficult for challengers to his office.
“Right now I’m focused on something else. I’m close to everything, the pitch, the business side and the office. I want to take another year to see how I feel. For now it’s not in my plans,” he replied.
“I don’t know the subject [of the statutes] in depth. But I see there is division at Madrid. In a year there’ll be elections. Florentino has been there a long time and it seems like everything has changed, it’s legal.
“It’s what the members wanted. They could raise their voice, think and decide. In the end, the club is for the members. There’ll be a chance in the next elections to talk and find the best. I think Madrid is in a good situation and I can’t give my opinion on this, it must be for other people.”