Raul joins Germany`s Schalke

Berlin: Talismanic Real Madrid striker Raul, forced out of the Bernabeu after 16 record-breaking seasons, has signed for Schalke at the age of 33.

Raul, who scored 323 times in 741 games for Real including a record 66 Champions League goals, and is Spain`s all-time leading scorer, will try to revive his career in industrial Gelsenkirchen after falling out of favour at the club where he made his name.

"This is a great piece of news for Schalke 04," coach Felix Magath told the club`s website on Wednesday after completing one of their biggest-ever signings.

"I`m happy that we`ve succeeded in inspiring such an outstanding footballer and world class player into changing to the Bundesliga and to Schalke.”

"His signing is a decisive step in our intentions to strengthen and rebuild the squad."

Schalke finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last season, qualifying directly for this year`s Champions League group stage.

One Conversation

Raul was officially presented in the afternoon and told Schalke`s website that it needed only one conversation with Real`s new coach Jose Mourinho to convince him to leave the Bernabeu.

"From that moment on, my mind was made up to look for a new challenge with Schalke," he said. "An era has ended with Real Madrid but a new one has begun with Schalke."

"For me, Germany has the best league in the world. Above all, I`m fascinated by how well-balanced it is."

Rainy Gelsenkirchen, where Schalke have an almost cult-like following, will be a new experience for Raul after the more refined surroundings of the Bernabeu.

Schalke`s nine-year-old stadium is one of the most atmospheric in the Bundesliga and, packed with denim-clad fans, reminds observers of the 1980s despite its relative youth.

Magath is known to be a fearsome taskmaster and his tough training methods have earned him the nickname Quaelix, a mixture of his first name and the German verb for to torture.

Schalke won the last of their seven titles in 1958 but have been runners-up three times in the last decades.

In contrast, Raul won six Spanish league titles and three Champions League titles at Real, a club he joined at the age of 17.

Raul barely featured at Real under Manuel Pellegrini last season and the club have further strengthened the squad for the arrival of new coach Jose Mourinho.

His Spain career, in which he scored 44 goals in 102 appearances, ended just after the 2006 World Cup.

Bureau Report

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