Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez secures sporting director diploma
Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez graduated with a sporting director diploma from the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Monday amid suggestions he could take a more formal role at his former club.
As a Madrid player, Raul won three Champions League titles and six La Liga trophies -- while scoring 323 goals in 741 games over 16 seasons -- a goal-scoring record only beaten by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2015.
The 42-year-old returned to the Bernabeu last summer as an advisor to club president Florentino Perez, and the addition of a formal sporting director qualification to his CV has now been confirmed by an RFEF statement.
"This Monday Nov. 27, at the Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol, the closing ceremony for the Sporting Director course took place," the statement said. "A class which included students known to fans including Raul Gonzalez Blanco, [ex-Levante] Juanfran Garcia, [ex-Madrid and Racing Santander] Pedro Munitis and [ex-Atletico Madrid and Racing] Gonzalo Colsa, among others."
Acting federation chief Juan Luis Larrea was present at the ceremony at RFEF HQ at Las Rozas, while there was also a first public appearance for Raul's old teammate Fernando Hierro following his recent return to the federation as sporting director.
After leaving the Bernabeu in 2010, Raul played for another six seasons with Schalke, Al Sadd and New York Cosmos. He also gained administrative and marketing experience working for the Aspire Academy in Qatar, and as La Liga's Country Manager for the USA, based in New York.
The Madrid native's current role as an advisor appears similar to that held by his former teammate Zinedine Zidane after his retirement as a player.
Zidane then spent time working alongside first-team coaches Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, and was in charge of the Castilla reserve side for 18 months, before he eventually took over the first team in January 2016.
Asked about his future plans, Raul himself has usually not revealed much, but in 2016 he told Sport ES he had not yet taken any coaching qualifications and that "I would not rule out any role in football, including that of club president."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan