http://www.goal.com/NewsDetail.aspx?idNews=71927&progr=5 Profile Of Raul: The Forgotten Man Of Football’s Elite 7/7/2005 8:52:00 AM The famous number seven, that is Raul Gonzalez Blanco to be exact, is a footballer of intelligence and eloquence on and off the field. If he's not poaching the vital goals for his beloved club, the mighty Real Madrid, he is instead at home indulging in his pleasures of reading and listening to music. Quite simply the man was sitting at the peak of the mountain; at the age of seventeen he had climbed to the summit in the world of soccer, yet at the same time he had exposed himself to a very steep fall, one that could only get steeper as time surpassed his excellence. When Raul made his breakthrough into the Real Madrid first team it was then that his surge began. In his first season in La Liga he managed nine goals, in his next he delivered nineteen. Simultaneously his qualities as a prolific attacker were conspiring to give him that edge in the competition that serves him best, that is the Champions League. So six goals in eight games in Europe brought him to the attention of passionate football fans of all walks of the game. From season 96 - 97 up to 01 - 02 he went on to amass a wonderful 112 goals in the league. In this time two Pichichis, three league titles, two Champions League triumphs and two Champions League golden boot awards firmly established the Spaniard as one of the world’s finest. Sure enough he never did it for Spain in the ’big’ competitions, but then again when has Spain ever done anything too great anyway? Despite this he was one of Spain’s all time top goal scorers and life seemed good at the ’summit’. But the train has to stop eventually, and Raul‘s last stop was approaching fast . And so the legend began to fall. Madrid’s team of superstars could not keep the stability and balance of a team that lacked depth, and, more importantly a proficient defensive set - up. It must be said that Raul was still doing the business in Europe, as opposed to his diminishing league form, but despite his best efforts Madrid were now on course for a trophy-less season. The following season Raul and his beloved club engaged in a superb game against Manchester United, his two goals drawing glowing remarks from Sir Alex Ferguson as, to quote the Scot, "the best striker in the world". Sadly though this was his only highlight of the season, and ultimately his last great moment for him, in terms of his own personal triumph as an individual. Season 03 - 04 brought him a paltry eleven goals in the league, and only two in the competition he strives to flourish in, The Champions League. For as we know it, this is a competition for ’champions’, and on current evidence he did not seem value to this. We look at last season now and we see a player that lacks the mercurial finesse of not long ago. Instead we see a player that looks lost. A player who looks lost in the midst of the intense demand for success at the world’s most prestigious football club. Was the pressure beginning to tell on the famous number seven? I mean he struck a disastrous nine goals in the league last season, and in general he was gradually disappearing from the rankings of the world’s best. Ahead of Raul you will find Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy, Henry, Crespo, Gilardino, Vieri and ironically the next Spanish ’golden’ boy Fernando Torres of Raul’s former club and Real’s city rivals Atletico. It may seem that statistics are the basis for my argument, but be honest with yourself and realise that is Raul the man to spearhead a Man Utd attack, a Barcelona attack, an AC Milan attack, or even more precisely a Real Madrid front line? It must be said that once again the pressure in delivering the goals was weighted upon the brilliant Brazilian Ronaldo, and has been since he first signed for Madrid. It must be said that if it were not for the South American’s presence at Madrid then Raul would have been shipped off a few seasons ago. The situation regarding Owen delves into the problems surrounding Raul, considering Owen’s form from the bench last season, one must question the value of Raul’s starting berth ahead of the Englishman. I want to finish on what I believe is the truth revolving around the much blemished reputation of Raul. When Mr Blanco himself states a desire to leave (that is publicly in the newspapers) for what he believes is for the good of his club then yes I agree. So the painful yet true answer to Raul’s situation is simple; Raul is a forgotten man. His fans have voted against him, his form has dropped immensely and now the news is through that Madrid have completed the signing of Santos forward Robinho. A new era beckons for Madrid and surely Raul cannot be part of it. His fall from grace has brought him to the base of the mountain, a fall equal to Faustus himself. Now the mountain is steeper than ever and sadly I think we have seen the best of a man who brought so much to the game yet peaked so early as reminiscent of Fowler at Liverpool. A message to Raul, you are a player that demands great respect but the game moves on and with that so do our legends. By Chris Macleod ******************************************************* Not as bad as the last Goal.com essay on Raul, but even so it is lacking. No mention is made of the big goals against Dynamo Kiev & Barcelona, nothing about Raul's assists, or even the fact he has played as the AM for much of the 2nd half of the season. On the other hand, I can not explain why Raul has lost that magnificent scoring touch either.